An evening with Scholastique Mukasonga
Thursday, September 18, 2014, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco


City Lights in conjunction with Archipelago Books and the Cultural Services of the Consul General of France in San Francisco

present an evening with

Scholastique Mukasonga

reading from her work

followed by a conversation with Scott Esposito (Center for the Art of Translation)

opening statements by Jill Schoolman (Archipelago Books)

(Event will be followed by a wine and cheese reception in the poetry room)

celebrating the release of

Our Lady of the Nile

translated by Melanie Mauthner

published by Archipelago Books

For her most recent work and first novel – Notre-Dame du Nil, originally published in March 2012 with Gallimard in French – Mukasonga immerses us in a school for young girls, called "Notre-Dame du Nil." The girls are sent to this high school perched on the ridge of the Nile in order to become the feminine elite of the country and to escape the dangers of the outside world. The book is a prelude to the Rwandan genocide and unfolds behind the closed doors of the school, in the interminable rainy season. Friendships, desires, hatred, political fights, incitement to racial violence, persecutions… The school soon becomes a fascinating existential microcosm of the true 1970s Rwanda.

Born in Rwanda in 1956, Scholastique Mukasonga experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of the ethnic conflicts that shook her country. In 1960, her family was displaced into the under-developed Nyamata. In 1973, she was forced to leave the school of social assistance in Butare and flee to Burundi. She settled in France in 1992. The genocide of the Tutsi swept through Rwanda 2 years later. Mukasonga learned that 27 of her family members had been massacred. Twelve years later, Gallimard published her autobiographical account Inyenzi ou les Cafards, which marked Mukasonga's entry into literature. Her first novel, Notre-Dame du Nil, won the Ahamadou Kourouma prize and the Renaudot prize in 2012.

Praise for the work of Scholastique Mukasonga:

"In a writing style both rough and tender, Our Lady of the Nile depicts a society inevitably heading towards horror. [...] Poignant and tenacious."

— Christine Rousseau, Le Monde

"Whoever has loved Africa will be touched by this story [...] It is the very essence of Africa, an immense Africa that will absorb even this terrible genocide."

— Joël Prieur, Minute

"Strangely, it is in this incredibly light novel, that one best understands the ethnic, political, and religious reasons behind the massacre of the mysterious Tutsis."

— Arnaud Viviant, Regards

"[After she was awarded the Prix Renaudot] I went out and procured every work by Scholastique Mukasonga. [...] Never has a prize been more merited."

— Frédéric Beigbeder, Lire