Harvest of Skulls

Written by Abdourahman A. Waberi | Translated by Dominic Thomas
Indiana University Press | February 20, 2017

In 1994, the akazu, Rwandan’s political elite, planned the genocidal mass slaughter of 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi and Hutu who lived in the country. Given the failure of the international community to acknowledge the genocide, in 1998, ten African authors visited Rwanda in a writing initiative that was an attempt to make partial amends. In this multidimensional novel, Abdourahman A. Waberi claims, "Language remains inadequate in accounting for the world and all its turpitudes, words can never be more than unstable crutches, staggering along... And yet, if we want to hold on to a glimmer of hope in the world, the only miraculous weapons we have at our disposal are these same clumsy supports." Shaped by the author’s own experiences in Rwanda and by the stories shared by survivors, Harvest of Skulls stands twenty years after the genocide as an indisputable resource for discussions on testimony and witnessing, the complex relationship between victims and perpetrators, the power of the moral imagination, and how survivors can rebuild a society haunted by the ghost of its history.

Abdourahman A. Waberi is a novelist, essayist, poet, and short-story writer. Born in Djibouti, he is Professor of French and Francophone literature at George Washington University. The author of Transit, In the United States of Africa, Passage of Tears, and La Divine Chanson, he has been awarded the Stefan-Georg-Preis, the Grand Prix Littéraire d'Afrique noire, and the Prix biennal "Mandat pour la liberté." He was named one of the "50 Writers of the Future" by the French literary magazine Lire.

Dominic Thomas is Madeleine L. Letessier Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Publisher's website


REVIEWS

 

"The novel’s fractured form lends the subject matter depth and scale; while the stories are each personal and intimate, the collective pain is vast.(...) From the first line, Waberi’s stunning book pays testimony to his delicate dilemma: “One almost feels like opening with an apology for the very existence of this work.” Publishers Weekly

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