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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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfotunately understated, but also an over-reaction, 22 Nov 2008
For me, Gil Courtemanche's book, A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali, bore a great similarity to the screenplay for the film Hotel Rwanda. Having seen the film twice, it is a positive statement about the book to state that I did not make the association until almost two thirds of the way through.

On the other hand, much of the material I did not associate with the film verged on the prurient or scatological. Much of what rose above this level eventually depressed, because it addressed like an obsession the detail, the consequences and the pathology of AIDS. The doubly unfortunate truth about the last two sentences is that the book probably, in its excesses, under-states the reality.

An enduring memory is a character, a visitor to Rwanda, seeing what he takes to be a cultivated hillside and then praising effusively the presence of agriculture in the centre of town A moment later he is introduced to reality by his host who confirmed that the excavation was a cemetery to cultivate the profusions of corpses produced by AIDS. The scenes of genocide that follow can only match the horror of what went before.

At the core of the book is the relationship between Valcourt and Gentille. He is Canadian, a journalist film-maker, who seems at home in Rwanda's tribulations. Gentile is a woman of virtue, a virtue she plies with ease. She looks like a Tutsi, but is a Hutu.

In some ways their relationship mirrors the colonial heritage that at least exacerbated, if perhaps not actually caused the potential for ethnic conflict that eventually ignited so disastrously. But A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali points to social divisions in an apparently valueless community that sees other people, both collectively and individually, merely as the exploitable given form. There's not a lot of joy here, even in the book's copious sex that seems, anaesthetised, to dominate much of the text.

But overall there is little to uplift in the book. Almost no-one offers love or compassion. An almost unrelenting torrent of cynicism, abuse, persecution and social degeneration floods from every page. It is a portrait of an almost uncompromisingly ugly and abhorrent experience. The book is thus an often one-paced, one-dimensional read. The problem, unfortunately, is that it might be accurate.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey to the Dark Heart of Africa, 27 April 2008
This review is from: A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali (Paperback)
This is the first time I have posted to Amazon, and I do it the day after finishing A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali. I have read many brilliant books, and many brilliant books about Africa, and this book is up there with them.
What a terrible, amazing, heart-wrenching, tragic, awful story.
I will urge my family and friends to read this book, although when I came to the end I felt absolutely shattered. The love of Valcourt and Gentille is a sign of hope in a world gone mad, but it ultimately can't transcend the cancer that rips apart the heart of Rwanda.
What were the Belgians, the French, the Canadians, the UN, the Hutus and the Tutsis doing? How did we stand by and let this happen? And how can anyone fail to be moved by the author's bravery and dedication in telling this story?
I'm sure Gil Courtemanche doesn't read Amazon reviews, but if he does, I just want to say 'thank you'.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 18 July 2008
By 
J. R. Skelton (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali (Paperback)
This book centres around a relationship between a Westerner and a local. The bite is that it takes place at the time of the Rwandan genocide. The book appears to be almost semi-biographical in its nature, but I guess the author may have just drawn on his own, and others' experiences at the time. I was also in Rwanda working at the time, and this book gives a great feeling of time and place. The translation from French can make it appear a little clunky in places, but bear with it. I've recently read the much praised 'Half of a yellow sun' which is hailed as a classic (I disagree!) but is not a patch on this gem.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The horror of genocide told through the eyes of doomed lovers, 18 Aug 2007
This review is from: A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali (Paperback)
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting!, 6 Mar 2014
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An amazing book! Full of real warmth and humour, but in no way avoiding some of the harrowing issues facing people in poorer countries, including the Genocide in Rwanda. Having visited Rwanda on a number of occasions, I found this book amusing and heart-warming - a truly enjoyable read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Dec 2014
By 
Mrs. Andrea Smith "Aj xx" (Blyth) - See all my reviews
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great read
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12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The shallow end, 9 Oct 2003
By A Customer
Do not be taken in by the blurb - this is nothing like Joseph Conrad or Graham Greene, let alone Albert Camus. It's more like the Bridges of Madison County meets African genocide, and it isn't a happy mix. The hero is obviously Courtemanche's alter ego, and he treats him far too well. The simple truth is the Rwanda catastrophe isn't well served by being fictionalized. I'm not sure what additional truth Courtemanche thought he could bring with the novel form, but this is very thin when compared with Philip Gourevitch's "We Wish To Inform You." It's also peculiarly old fashioned - it sometimes feels like one of those 1950s Hollywood spectaculars where some love story or other unfolds against the background of the Boxer rebellion, or the siege of Leningrad. The invective against the U.N. etc is pretty obvious too.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a moving and graphic novel, 14 May 2013
By 
D. Grierson "alexia" (London) - See all my reviews
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A stunning book. Difficult subject matter but the story flowed and the slowly unfolding genocide movingly covered. If only the world had listened
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh!, 25 May 2014
By 
Tabatha Stirling (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Haunting, terrible, beautiful, heart-breaking. None of those do this novel justice. Just read it & pass this truth on to everybody.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graphic and horrific in places, 25 Jun 2013
By 
Thomas Hewitt "please help" (England) - See all my reviews
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Very well written but harrowing story based on real events.
Recommended by our book club as we all felt the same.
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A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali
A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche (Paperback)
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