cover image Blood Papa: Rwanda’s New Generation

Blood Papa: Rwanda’s New Generation

Jean Hatzfeld, trans. from the French by Joshua David Jordan. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-27978-3

French journalist Hatzfeld (The Antelope’s Strategy), who has authored three previous books about the 1994 Rwandan genocide—the planned slaughter of more than 800,000 members of the Tutsi ethnic group by Hutu political elites—investigates the legacy of those massacres to powerful effect. He interviews young adults from Nyamata district who were either too young at the time to remember the events or who were born in the years following, and some of their parents and teachers. Surprisingly, the offspring of the Hutu genocidists appear to have suffered more deeply than those of the Tutsi survivors, according to Hatzfeld: Tutsi children receive educational stipends from the government, which has led to unequal opportunities, and the killers’ children feel deep shame. “We pay for sins we didn’t commit,” laments the daughter of one Hutu prisoner. Despite, or perhaps because of, the government’s prohibition on talk of ethnicity, “deep down, a lot of young people from both ethnicities conceal a desire for revenge,” admits the daughter of a Tutsi survivor. This book, more of an ethnography than a history, exposes the effects of the genocide’s stubborn legacy on the next generation, but is not an introduction to the events of 1994. Readers approaching it without prior knowledge of the genocide or Hutu-Tutsi relations will have a hard time fully understanding it, but those who have context will find this an illuminating update. (Aug.)