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Deogratias, A Tale of Rwanda

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3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  748 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
The 2000 winner of the Goscinny Prize for outstanding graphic novel script, this is the harrowing tale of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, as seen through the eyes of a boy named Deogratias. He is an ordinary teenager, in love with a girl named Bénigne, but Deogratias is a Hutu and Bénigne is a Tutsi who dies in the genocide, and Deogratias himself plays a part in her death. ...more
Paperback, 79 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by First Second (first published January 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,284)
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Anna Parkinson
Jul 18, 2009 Anna Parkinson rated it it was amazing
Although the graphic novel is comparable to that of a comic book in appearance, this particular graphic novel is anything but comical. This book is about a horrific genocide that took place in Rwanda, Africa as recent as 1994! Over 800,000 African men, women, and children were brutally murdered while the rest of the world stood by and did nothing, and in this novel J.P. Stassen brings the story of this unimaginable event to his readers in an extremely unique and creative way. The visual images t ...more
Sally
Feb 01, 2009 Sally added it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I'm going to have to read this a few more times before I'll be able to talk intelligently about Deogratias. The constant time shifts, flashbacks, and parallel narratives make for a very difficult read. Beautiful art, at times disturbing and provocative.

Like other reviewers, I want to say that I know not nearly enough about the Rwandan genocide. I need to read more.

I read this book because I'm considering designing a unit around it. The language and at times the content is much more mature than
...more
Trisha
Sep 13, 2010 Trisha rated it it was ok
Deogratias, the protagonist of this graphic novel, is a young boy, living in a country torn by ethnic strife as the Hutu prepare and eventually attempt to eliminate the Tutsi. The story swings back and forth between the time before and after the genocide, and readers watch as a young boy concerned only about girls transforms into a young man tortured by his memories.

I was struck, emotionally, by the plight of Deogratias as he suffers mentally in the brutal aftermath of the genocide. His madness
...more
matt
Jul 09, 2009 matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
This is a difficult to book to read for a variety of reasons.
One - you have to pay close attention. There are flashbacks peppered throughout, and they happen without warning, or any change in color or design - mostly you just have to see if the main character's shirt is ripped into shreds or not to know if this is before or after the war.
Two - it is about racism, imperialism, genocide, and basically people being horrific to other people.
But the book is very effective at relating the motivations
...more
Tom Tabasco
Aug 06, 2015 Tom Tabasco rated it it was amazing
This is a stunning graphic novel. I absolutely loved the drawings, with their thick black contours, the colors and the style.

It's the story of Deogratias, a Hutu kid who lived through the times of the genocide in Rwanda. The horrors he's been witnessing cause him to lose his mind and become an alcoholic. There are many flashbacks to when he was younger and healthier, but unlike other reviewers I did not find that confusing. I think it's a story well told.

I also thought that the editor's idea o
...more
David Schaafsma
This is what I wrote in September 2012, when I had read a fraction of the graphic novels I have read now:

Rwanda, genocide, told through a very complex lens, a graphic novel, beautiful and agonizing, not for kids…maybe.

I gave it five stars in part because I thought it was uniquely focused on social justice issues, and thought that was rare. I also had read books on the Rwandan genocide and thought optimistically that it might be read by a YA audience in schools.

Since I am teaching a YA class this
...more
Sara
Mar 07, 2011 Sara rated it liked it
Even though it grates against my bibliophilic tendencies I am looking for ways to incorporate graphic novels into education and had hoped that this one about the Rwandan genocide could be a possibility, but I'm not so sure. While I know that a majority of 9th graders are somewhat immune to violence and language and wouldn't bat an eye at the lines/graphics/racial slurs in this book, I'm not convinced that their parents would be so open minded. I also wish that this particular story wasn't told i ...more
Andrae Mcconnell
Dec 16, 2009 Andrae Mcconnell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yal-2009
This graphic novel haunted me for several days after I finished it. Deogratias is a young boy caught in the middle of a genocide with his friends. He struggles to reconcile what is going on around him with the normal issues and concerns that come with being a teenager. The story is told through flashbacks, and each one is a little more horrific than the last. The art is not super amazing, but it fits the story. Some of the images are very disturbing and rightfully so. Stassen does a really nice ...more
Lizzie
Sep 05, 2014 Lizzie rated it did not like it
I read this graphic novel in the hopes that it would be a good piece to add to my classroom's library. I did learn more about the Rwandan genocide from it, and thought its exploration of how violent trauma impacts mental health was well done. I found it confusing in how it would jump between time periods extremely rapidly and it was so short that the different characters were not well developed, so you really had to pay attention to who was who. I suppose these leaps in time provide readers with ...more
Anna
Aug 04, 2009 Anna rated it it was amazing
This is a tough book to read. It's short (less than 100 pages) but it will still take you a relatively long time to a) figure out the structure of the book and b) think -- and I mean really think -- about what happened. This is a graphic novel that tells the story of Deogratias, a Hutu boy living in Rwanda during the 1993-94 genocide. The story incorporates flashbacks rather effectively so you find out what happened leading up to the genocide and then you see how Deogratias deals with the afterm ...more
Lil Jen
Nov 10, 2014 Lil Jen rated it really liked it
Powerful story that stays with you.
Julie Suzanne
After reading the preface that explained the causes of the Rwanda genocide, the facts about it, and its aftermath (thoroughly and clearly, it seems) I had a feeling that I should stop there. I should have. I wanted to know more about this situation but had to stop watching any documentaries or movies about it almost immediately because I'm too sensitive to graphic images, so I appreciated this overview in such a non-graphic and clear style. However, it was a GRAPHIC NOVEL that followed it, so wh ...more
Lorraine M. Thompson
Jan 19, 2016 Lorraine M. Thompson rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Amazing art work. I am giving this a 4 because the artwork is outstanding and the author captured my attention despite the subject matter.

The story-telling method was confusing at first...it was sometimes hard to determine if the action was occurring in the present or in the past. Oftentimes I had to rely on the condition of Deogratias' shirt to determine the time frame.

The introduction by Alexis Siegel provides incomplete and therefore misleading information. Absolutely the 1994 genocide in R
...more
Megan
Jan 01, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it
"Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda" is brutal and incredible story of Deogratias- a member of the Hutu race and survivor of the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath. It details his attempts to cope with his actions during the genocide and the madness it causes. As the publisher says the story details his "descent into hell".
The story is told through flashbacks which require the reader to pay close attention to the characters' clothing to determine past or present. It's not hard to follow once you're a
...more
Kelli
Oct 23, 2015 Kelli rated it really liked it
In this graphic novel, Jean-Phillipe Stassen shows us life before, during, and after the Rwandan genocide by following a Hutu man named Deogratias. Before the genocide he was a carefree, careless boy concerned only about fun and girls. After, he's gone insane. His PTSD manifests itself by him believing he's a dog, just like the dogs he saw eating corpses, unless he's drunk. While the format is simple, this is a very difficult but important read. The forward includes an overview of what led to th ...more
Jaaron
Sep 30, 2014 Jaaron rated it really liked it
Review originally posted on Worn Pages and Ink.

Deogratias is a subtle tale of the horrors of the Rwandan genocide. The images bounce between the past and present without definitively identifying what is flashback and what is not. The only way to know where you are in the story is to note the state of Deogratias' clothes: is he tattered or fresh? It makes it a bit difficult to know exactly where you are in the story if you happen to let your attention slip. It is a graphic novel that needs a care
...more
Zac
Apr 12, 2015 Zac rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-comics
Set during the Rwandan genocide, this comic focuses on teenage Deogratias and his friends and tells his story both before and after the horrific events. It doesn't really explain what is going in Rwanda politically until a bit later in the book, so the introductory sections gives some much needed context. In terms of politics, the author seems primarily concerned with explaining problems brought about by colonial influences (here represented by a French soldier, and some churchy types) but the w ...more
Delphine Durst
Feb 05, 2014 Delphine Durst rated it it was amazing
Powerful and horrifying. Sharing history, especially the worst of it,with younger generation is essential and I think this book will do his part.
Josh
Feb 06, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing
The non time sequential story telling was difficult to wrap my head around at first. Once I got that down, the story flowed much better. Like some of the previous reviews, let the reader be warned that though the book is written in graphic novel format, it is not a comic story at all. Simultaneously gripping and engaging, the last thread of the story is so engrossing, I could not stop reading. With a denouement that masterfully wraps up the visual themes of the story, I was emotionally spent by ...more
Alicia
It's stark and startling with images that rip the reader to sheds depicting the Rwandan genocide and the disgusting tactics used in a fight that pitted Hutu and Tutsi groups against each other, though in the foreword, it explains that it's more about the imperial forces that dictated this 'difference' rather than a real cultural difference between the two.

Yes, Deogratias becomes jaded and demoralized by what he has seen and done with flashbacks to before and now, the readers experiencing Deogra
...more
Taneka
Dec 12, 2014 Taneka rated it it was amazing
I give this five stars only because it did not hold back on how degrading and ugly war/genocide can be. Here you have Deogratias, a young teenager that is a Hutu, who is in love with Bénigne, who is a Tutsi. Those that have read about the horrors in Rwanda in the 90's will recognize the two ethnic groups. In 100 days, 500K to 1M died in Rwanda during an ethnic cleanse. In this story, Deogratias has a hand in the fate of Benigne and her sister's death. Unable to handle the regret and shame, the r ...more
Courtney
Deogratias is a Hutu youth who has lived through and participated in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Told primarily in flashbacks, this graphic novel chronicles the mental toll the events of the war have taken on Deogratias. Prior to the conflict, he is a relatively normal teenager, falling in love for the first time and trying to figure out his life. The violence of the Rwandan conflict leaves Deogratias a broken man, one who can scarcely communicate with the outside world. The horrors he has see ...more
Steven
Aug 24, 2008 Steven rated it liked it
A genocide is the lurking background of this strong tale - so those who have triggers about that sort of thing might approach with caution. It isn't explict (maybe an R rating for a few scenes), but the themes are dark, dark, dark.

And good, good, good. This tale of love, death, and more in the face of genocide is powerful despite its flaws. The foreword alone is a wonderful summation of modern history of Africa's conflicts - and one I was unaware of. Issues of race, the arbitrary nature of disti
...more
Lisa
May 15, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
For those who don't know about the genocide of 800,000 people in Rwanda in 3 months in 1994, this is a great introduction. This is a story that shows through narrative and characters how the demonizing of your fellow citizens (I'm talking to you, Fox News) can grow beyond the point of control and lead to massive pain and destruction for all the citizens living in a country. The main character is Deogratias, a teenager part of the genocidal Hutus. It is he that walks around, insane, having to liv ...more
Leslie
the images are haunting. the story disturbing. and the lingering and deepening sadness followed me for hours after the read.

"Deogratis is mad (both crazy and enraged). He is destroyed and evidently haunted. The recent events seem explanation enough, in the scratched surface of an understanding: he lived through a genocide, he likely lost his young love, he witnessed gruesome things. But the extent of the horror leaves the reader gasping. Stassen goes to great lengths to shove the reader on their
...more
Fabrice Shema
Fabrice Shema
Mr. Rich
English 10
7 September 2011
Book Review A

In Deogratias a tale of Rwanda talks about a historical perspective that really fascinates the reader to stay on point to the book. Deogratias and Benima are two teenagers that lived in Rwanda during most brutal genocide that ever took place on this earth. Stassen the author takes us back before and after the war happened, how even before the war happened everything was just a mess. The two sides the Hutu and the Tutsi did not like eac
...more
Natalie Nassar
Seventeen years ago, Rwanda went through a racial genocide. Jean-Philippe Stassen did a splendid job of depicting the experience in his graphic novel, Deogratias. Deogratias is a tale of a wandering Hutu in a crazed mental state just trying to recover from past experiences. The entire story line is made up of flashbacks of past memories that took place throughout the years of terror.
Stassen does a fantastic job of getting inside the mentality of Deogratias. He did not skip out on any of the g
...more
Sabra Embury
Deogratias is a young boy living in a country torn by ethnic strife as the Hutu prepare and eventually attempt to eliminate the Tutsi. The story swings back and forth between the time before and after the genocide, and readers watch as a young boy concerned only about sex transforms into an insane drunk, who thinks he's a dog and is tortured by his memories.

There is violence, murder and rape inappropriate for anyone under 15 to read about in the context of what seems to be a well-illustrated co
...more
Leanna
Sep 04, 2007 Leanna rated it really liked it
Originally published in Belgium and translated by Alexis Seigal, Deogratias is a graphic novel exploring the effects of the Rwandan genocide on Deogratias, the main character.

Although this is a young adult novel, the content is very adult. Stassen does not shy away from discussing the realities of the genocide. The language and images are strong, realistic, and disturbing. As a reader, I wanted to hide from these realities, yet I felt compelled to keep reading.

The story opens with Deogratias cle
...more
m_miriam
Jun 21, 2015 m_miriam rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic
While the artwork is impressive, I found the story to be terribly lacking, full of one-dimensional and under-developed characters, inadequate context, and a simplistic ending. Stassen took a complex and heart-breaking story and turned into a simplistic portrait of good/evil and madness. I didn't believe the overlapping relationships between Deogratias and the mother and daughters he betrays and subsequently avenges. I would have a preferred a less heavy-handed treatment of the Rwandan genocide.
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Born and raised in Belgium, Stassen has traveled all over the world. His books have been published in many languages, and his remarkable artistry has won him many awards. Some of his works are imbued with the places he lived, such as Tangiers in The Old Frenchman's Bar. From the Maghreb to Latin America, to South Africa and Mozambique, Stassen eventually settled with his family in Rwanda, where th ...more
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