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A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali

Part of the Canons Series
Literary Fiction   
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Selected by Sarah Broadhurst

A microcosm for the competing powers and influential groups in Rwanda, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali looks at those involved in one of the most tragic events of the twentieth century. It is a powerful political novel, a poignant love story and a stirring hymn to humanity. With an Introduction by Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi.

If you like Gil Courtemanche you might also like to read books by Sofi Aksanen, Warren Fitzgerald and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche

In the middle of Kigali is a swimming pool at the Hotel des Mille-Collines. It is a magnet for a privileged group of residents, a place where international experts mix with aid-workers, middle-class Rwandans drink with melancholy expatriates and prostitutes. But beyond the walls of the hotel exists the underbelly of a chaotic society. Thousands of households are affected by violence, disease and poverty. Amid this troubled world, a Canadian journalist named Valcourt falls for a beautiful Hutu waitress who goes by the name of Gentille. Their relationship develop as militiamen pass out machetes in the neighbourhoods. Civil unrest threatens what little order remains in the city. When news of the trouble reaches the world of the hotel, both Valcourt and Gentille speak out against the brutal attacks but are met with apathetic UN forces, corrupt policemen and the blindness of western media outlets.


'A Heart of Darkness for today Astounding - It's no surprise that this book has won so many prizes'. - Daily Mail

'Exceptional ... you must read it - or allow it to read you' - Sunday Times

'This powerful and astonishing novel is one of the most important to be set in Africa since Camus'
The Plague - Scotsman

'An intense affair, urgent and nerve-wrackingly ominous, with a surprisingly boisterous humour - Financial Times

'Corrosive, denunciatory ... and beautifully written.' - Le Devoir, Montreal

'A voice that evokes humanity in all its depth and breadth, where the executioner and victim are brother and sister, where death is a daily occurrence. A voice I implore you to listen to ... Through a felicitous mix of reportage and fiction, Courtemanche has powerfully portrayed a lucid character deeply engaged in a humanist quest.' - Le Journal de Montreal

About the Author

Gil Courtemanche

Gil Courtemanche is an author and journalist in international and third-world politics. He has written many non-fiction works and also made the award-winning documentary, The Gospel of Aids. When his first novel, Un Dimanche ala piscine a Kigali, was originally publishing in 2000 it spent more than a year on the Quebec bestseller lists and won the Prix des Libraires, the booksellers award for outstanding book of the year. He currently lives in Quebec where he works as a political columnist for Le Devoir.

Patricia Claxton is one of Canada's foremost translators, winning the Governor Genera's Award for translation on two separate occasions.

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Book Info

Publication date

4th August 2011


Gil Courtemanche

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Canongate Books Ltd


288 pages


Literary Fiction

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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