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Small Country by Gael Faye - Review

Saturday, March 23, 2019

I bought this book from Our Liberty Box which was a black owned business that sold things from Africa and the African diaspora. It doesn't appear to be working now, but I saw an advert for something last year and bought some Christmas gifts from there. I also bought myself this book and another.

This book is about the Rwandan genocide, the civil war between the Hutus and the Tutsis in the 1990s. So if that's something that will distress you, don't read this book. However, I didn't find it too graphic. There is some violence, of course, and some mental illness which may also be distressing. I think that for an older teen it would be a perfectly appropriate book, however, especially for a teen interested in this kind of history.

The story centres on Gaby, a young boy living in Burundi. He is mixed race - his dad is French, and white, and his mum is Rwandan. She has been living in exile for many years in Burundi as she's a Tutsi and the situation in Rwanda has been tense for years. She sometimes gets to visit her aunt in Rwanda, who has four children, with whom Gaby and his sister Ana are close.

Gaby has four friends who live on his street, and avoids local bully Francis. As tensions rise, Gaby's maman leaves the family, and the men who work in his house are under threat.

I liked this a lot, I thought the point of view of a young boy was a really good way of showing the genocide. This book was translated from French but I don't think it showed. Gael Faye is a musician and this is his first novel, but I would definitely read something else by him in the future.

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