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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
It took me a while to get into this book as I worried I wasn't going to be able to remember who was who and therefore follow the story properly. I needn't have worried. The book is so beautifully written and translated which makes what you're reading about all the more horrific as the atrocities are reported in such a matter of fact manner. I feel the true story of the...
Published on 1 July 2005 by supasal12

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AIDS...corruption...massacres: better as reportage than fiction
Set in Rwanda during one of the darkest chapters in human history the tone of this novel-reportage is relentlessly sombre. I am not sure what was gained by turning this event into quasi-fiction when the author was an eye-witness reporter plainly intent on spewing forth vitriol against those he felt were part responsible for the genocide by their inaction; namely, the UN,...
Published on 2 Mar 2009 by Trevor Coote


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5.0 out of 5 stars incredible. overwhelming. devastating. powerful. profound., 15 Nov 2012
it may not be fair for me to be writing this review yet as i am only half way through but i just needed to share the impact this book is having on me.
i love africa and this book has captured the beauty and the brutality reducing me to a sobbing wreck as memories of my visits there echo through me. this needs to be on school curriculums. i am going to finish reading through my tears and i will get back to you with my final thoughts.
please buy conflict free technology folks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great choice, 1 Feb 2010
This is a very good book, very easy to be read in its format, but difficult content.... but also very striking... I advice everybody that is interested in conflicts, Africa, or simply in the dignity of the human being to have access to this incredible work of art!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Disturbing!, 30 July 2007
Set during the Rwandan genocide this factually correct novel is one of the most disturbing I have read in recent years.
A second holocaust with massacres carried out in the most horrendous ways between the Hutu and Tutsi. The author has used the facts and real people to portray the events as an eyewitness report. Although horrifying, shocking and emotionally upsetting, the balance to the horror is the tender love affair between Gentille and Bernard Valcourt.
Every reader will of course be sickened by the subject matter, but it is a powerful novel written in such a way that you will not regret reading it.
I feel so angry and sad things like this are allowed to happen in the world.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and extremely thought-provoking, 29 Sep 2003
By 
I have literally just finished reading Canadian journalist Gil Courtemanche's beautiful book about the Rwandan genocide, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali. It's a stunning achievement: beautifully written. The plot, which builds from the opening paragraph, alerts you to the fact that all is not what it seems at the expensive Kigali hotel for aid workers, foreign diplomats and members of Rwanda's ruling classes. There is danger beneath the surface. This makes for outstanding dramatic tension.
Too, there is a tragedy here --- a subtle, delicate and, ultimately, gut-renching tragedy of the type only humankind can impart on itself.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The horror of genocide told through the eyes of doomed lovers, 26 Aug 2007
The pool in the title is that of a large hotel in Kigali. The two main characters, Valcourt, who is an ex-pat Canadian in Rwanda to make a film that clearly will never be made and Gentille, a waitress at the hotel who is a Hutu but looks like a Tutsi live at the hotel. They fall in love and the horror of the Rwandan genocide is told through their eyes. Just enough historical background is given to enable us to follow the events. Detail is not needed for horror has a greater impact when it comes upon us suddenly and without explanation.

The Rwandan version of `the final solution', bureaucratic sloth and blindness and the effects of AIDS on individuals and the country are mixed up in a complex and harrowing story. The author makes it clear that he is describing real events and even using real names. He does not need to moralize; events speak for themselves. Constantine, a minor character, has AIDS but is determined to copulate with as many women as possible without protection. His rationale is that since they are all going to die anyway, they may as well enjoy life in the meantime. Work out your own morality.

The underlying moral dilemma for Valcourt is whether he should take Gentille to Canada along with the dead Constantine's baby whom they have adopted. He decides not to do so since he has committed himself to Rwanda. A price has to be paid for this decision. The size of this price is described in horrifying detail and the reader will have to decide whether this price was worth paying.

This book cannot be judged like any other novel because the events described are supposed to be based on fact. Had they not been we could justifiably accuse the author of being unrealistic in his horror. The writing is of a high standard and economical without being terse. A young, naïve, diplomat is shown around the hopelessly ill-supplied hospital because his boss is playing golf. This tells us all we need to know about the dead hand of bureaucracy and its inability to meet real need.

The sensibilities of `civilized' westerners are not spared in the descriptions of consequences of lack of intervention in Rwanda in or before 1994. It does not make for comfortable reading and there is no happy ending. Highly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rwanda ravaged by Tutsi Genocide., 28 July 2004
By 
Michael Murphy (Glasgow, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Rwanda 1994:Genocide: every Tutsi man, woman and child targeted for murder. In the collective imagination, Rwanda's Hutu-Tutsi conflict conjures up images of cruel barbarity: the crunch of machete into bone; the smash of hammer and club through human skull; the putrefying bodies piled along the roadsides; bloated corpses floating down rivers; jam-packed churches set on fire; victims tossed alive onto piles of burning tires lining mass open pits. The mass of Rwandan Hutus were incited to the genocide to come by the Hutu Power radio station, the Hutu Power leaders using the broadcasts to coerce every Hutu into complicity in the genocide, the object being that every pair of Hutu hands be steeped in Tutsi blood. Spurred on by Hutu Power broadcasts and led by examples of Hutu militia massacres at countless roadblocks, the Hutu people of Rwanda - with machetes, knives, hammers, spears, clubs studded with nails and any other murderous weapon that came to hand - rose to the call to kill the "cockroaches", their friends, neighbours and workmates. Churches, where thousands of Tutsis fled for sanctuary, became the largest slaughterhouses.
Set in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, in the days preceding the genocide, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is a searing indictment of the inaction of the international community - the finger of accusation pointing at the Belgians and French - turning a blind eye to the appalling massacre of the helpless Tutsi minority population who were abandoned to certain annihilation. The novel is a stylishly written blend of fact and fiction, a combination of love story and powerful political reportage giving a terrifying and convincing portrayal of Rwanda in turmoil. Gil Courtmanche confronts the tragic spread of Aids and the genocide that ravaged Rwanda in a bloodbath that snuffed out 800,000 Tutsi lives - and those moderate Hutus who refused to participate - over a period of a hundred hellish days as the West stood around twiddling its thumbs. The scathing moral voice of Courtemanche denounces the hatred, sexual culture, powerlust and global apathy that brought Rwanda to its knees.
Based in the upmarket Hotel Des Milles Collines in Kigali, a house of refuge for many wealthy-connected Tutsi's targeted for murder by Hutu death squads, Bernard Valcourt, a Canadian journalist on assignment in Rwanda to produce a film documenting the Aids epidemic, falls for Gentille, a Hutu waitress at the hotel, often taken for a Tutsi. There is a sense of impending disaster in the air, pressure building, as Valcourt and the hotel's clientele of international officials, aid workers, expatriates, prostitutes, UN soldiers and a group of upscale Rwandan residents play out the days prior to the genocide around the hotel swimming-pool in a Kigali on the brink of becoming a mass Tutsi killing ground. Valcourt is aware that doom is fast approaching and his sword of truth exposes government corruption, police cover-ups, UN officialdom that blocked the seizure of massive arms cachements (that would later be used in the slaughter), inaction by impotent UN forces, and a heedless media. Recommended! For deeper insight, try Philip Gourevitch's classic account of the genocide, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating but entirely necessary, 9 Jan 2007
This review is from: A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali (Paperback)
It seems the curse of Africa that it is subject to old Testament like suffering. Famine, AIDS and genocide. What is wrong? Is it the cursed continent? However it is the spirit of its people, the endless beautiful horizons and the kindness of neighbour to neighbour that make Africa an example to the rest of the world. This book brings this all too light. The brutality of the genocide and the friendship of people wakes up a sleeping man and allows him to fall in love and live a life that would otherwise have been full of every day nothingness.

This book is beautifully written. Despite the sadness and horror it reads like poetry and is marked by hope. When faced with a situation that is out of control we can live and die menaingful lives. Really worth the read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty is horror and horror is beauty, 19 Sep 2007
By 
lmhh (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This is one of the most moving powerful pieces of writing you will ever come across and it will tear your heart out. This is not a book to be read by the pool in anticipation of a Margherita. This book will touch your soul. The scene where the husband has sex with his dying wife is too horrible to contemplate but exactly right, and the only appropriate action in the circumstances. It will make you question everything about yourself and everything you think about the people you live with side by side every day.

I read this book when it was first published, and just re-read it and it has lost none of it's power. It is violent, horrible, uplifting, inspiring, I run out of adjectives.

It is out of the ordinary but be prepared to have your perceptions challenged.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love in the holocaust, 25 Feb 2006
This review is from: A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali (Paperback)
The astonishingly poetic book explores such apparently un-poetic issues as the African AIDS apidemic, genocide, poverty, corruption and great power cynicism. But this is the background or rather the essential context of a central love affair that is portrayed in an earthy yet transcendental way. A love for Rwanda, a country of hills, and of Africa, is what I brought away from this tragic yet ultimately optimistic book. I knew little or nothing of Rwanda and these events before I read the book. But it combines journalistic and historic insight with a heightened emotional instensity that sweep the reader along. I would recommend it to any reader who wants to have their eyes opened to the darker side of the late twentieth century in such majestic style.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most disturbing book I ever read, 9 July 2007
Whenever I start reading a book, I must finish it, no matter if it is bad or boring or whatever... This is the only book in my life that I have not finished reading. I could not bear the horrible sights that were described, and by that I don't mean that the author gives detailed descriptions about severed arms or so.I am completely sure that people who read this book will never get aids. Not because that makes them unable to get any, but because they will NEVER take the risk. It is deeply disturbing, probably more realistic than anything you will ever read about the Ruanda war. Because I felt so disturbed, it was hard to decide, but it is a good book, a great one. Otherwise it would not have touched me so much.
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A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche (Paperback)
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