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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
The Mille-Collines Hotel is hub to the Rwandan elite: Aid workers, diplomats, and other central figures in the disrupted African country pass important days and nights there in the care of bartenders, waitresses, and prostitutes. Bernard Valcourt, a Canadian widower producing a film about the AIDS epidemic, has arrived at the height of Rwanda's civil unrest, and is bewitched by a young Hutu girl, Gentille. When Gentille discovers that Bernard's attraction to her is deeper than lust, the two begin a life-changing affair in a country where sex and death go hand in hand. But as the couple prepare to be married, Rwanda erupts in unmitigated violence. Attempting to flee, the two are separated, leaving Valcourt frantic to find his lover.
Valcourt's search uncovers unspeakable atrocities -- Rwanda itself appears to have been ravished. His hope nearly extinguished as he seeks the truth about Gentille, Valcourt's account of this country's gruesome history is almost beyond comprehension. A fluent foray into the plight of Rwanda, Courtemanche's imagery -- often delightful, sometimes chilling -- is richly descriptive, conveying a challenging story with naked realism and appropriate compassion that refuses to capitulate to sentimentality. A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is a gripping story of a love built against the odds that drives steadily to a startling conclusion, revealing a writer with a conscience and a novel that demands to be read. (Fall 2003 Selection)