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A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,747 ratings  ·  232 reviews
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is a moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.
All manner of Kigali residents pass their time by the pool of the Mille-Collines hotel: aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates, UN peacekeepers, prostitutes. Keeping a watchful eye is Bernard Valcourt, a jaded foreign journalist, but his closest at
Hardcover, Nook book, 258 pages
Published May 30th 2007 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,850)
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Tea Jovanović
Žila smo ugostili na Sajmu knjiga u Beogradu davne 2004. i imali neobična iskustva s njim... Knjiga ima mučnu temu ali je predivna... Srbija je jedina zemlja gde nije bila hit... Ali nije kasno da svi oni koji su propustili tada da je pročitaju da to sada učine... :)
May 09, 2008 Elizabeth added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Sarah Carstairs
A sad and noble effort to bring the events of the genocide in Rwanda to a Western reading public; the dedication moved me almost to tears when I looked at it again after finishing the book. And yet for about three quarters of the novel it pretty much left me cold. The characterization was just not convincing or deep enough; the omniscient narrative voice was distanced and stiff, though this may have been a translation problem (it was written in French originally); there didn't seem to be any mot ...more
Това е една ужасно тъжна книга, една от малкото, които съжалявам, че съм прочела. И то не, защото е според мен е загуба на време с оглед на художествени качества - далеч съм от подобно твърдение... съжалявам, че описаните факти лежат на действително случили се събития. Не желая да приема факта, че човешки същества избиват човешки същества хладнокръвно, преднамерено и с удоволствие. А знам, че се случва.
Зловещ разказ за клането в Руанда - това е "Един неделен ден край басейна в Кигали". 230 стран
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
It might be a good idea to start with a bit of backstory here, since we should all have heard of the Rwandan genocide but that doesn't mean we really understand it. What follows is a hugely simplified history lesson (complete with my personal bias) which you are free to skip over.

Rwanda is a tiny fertile inland country surrounded by four larger ones, with a long, relatively peaceful history. First settled by African pygmies called Twa, they were later joined by the farming Hutus. Some time la
Sonja Arlow
I actually started reading a more factual, journalistic account of the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide,We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families : Stories from Rwanda (sure to be one of my favourite books) but I was curious about how these facts would be portrayed in a novel which is essentially a love story – thus the reading and finishing of THIS book first.

Even though the book has been translated from French into English none of the power and gripping descriptiv
Mary Soderstrom
Some 800,000 people massacred in three months, most by machete-wielding neighbors: that was the horror which began 20 years ago today in Rwanda. The conflict was ostensibly between ethnic groups, the majority Hutu and the minority Tutsi. But lines were blurred since many moderate Hutus were killed and anyone who has looked closely at the history of the African Great Lakes Region sees that the groups were often related and their differences were used by European powers to divide and conquer.

Gil C
Precious Williams
in some ways this is a 5-star book because it forces down our throats the atrocities so many of our fellow human beings suffered in the Rwandan genocide.

However, I was concerned about the way the African male characters in the book were portrayed. They were almost comically sex obsessed. One man, who is dying of Aids, gets a blow job from a prostitute as his mother watches, presumably unfazed. His own mother then helps remove the prostitute's clothing and observes in silence as her son performs
This book was just complete rubbish for me. Endless drivel about the obnoxious cast of characters who are just hanging around this swimming pool. I didn't like any of these people so I couldn't bring myself to actually give a damn about their stories. It was difficult enough to focus on turning each page as my mind kept drifting off into wondering what the postman was going to bring me. My pain did not last long and this went straight in the bag for the charity shop.
This is horrific and very honest. Another must for anybody who wants to spend time in the region and wants to understand how it can all go wrong very quickly. It’s incredible how people still tend to blame the colonial past for today’s problems. It’s time that we started to take responsibility for our own actions now.
Forgot this was true while reading it. Was so impressed with the balanced human view of the Rwandans that it portrayed. Their view of the inevitably of death versus the clean portrayal of the genocide, I loved this book.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (John F Kennedy)

The pool in the title is at a hotel in Kigali, Rwanda,where Western ex-pats,aid workers,diplomats and UN soldiers congregate to get drunk and fornicate with hookers and is set at the time of one of the human races darkest moments. The story is told in a novel/documentary way and centres around Bernhard Valcourt, a somewhat jaded Canadian film journalist who lives in the hotel supposedly to make a film
"Son, we must flee the madness that invents peoples and tribes."

A holocaust like so many others, marked only by the fact that its perpetrators live in a country "too poor to afford gas chambers."

A story based in actual events -- Rwanda, 1994 -- and made bearable to read by a love imagined at its core. LIke so many great loves, this one is impossible to sustain.

Time, now, to read more stories of how the people of Rwanda have gone on, twenty years later.


"You live like an animal guided by in
In the progress of reading:
I am a little over half-way through this book and have mixed feelings about it. The voice it is written in gives the sense of a beauty in a country descending into absolute horror; the thought processes of the story teller (Bernard) are interesting and seem quite human.
On the other hand, so far this book has been about sex and AIDS, and how all of these men don't seem to care about infecting everybody else, as long as they have sex... I find this to be a slightly distu
The problem with this book is that it presents both very good elements and very bad elements. So I can't say that I loved it for its informative and moving depictions of Rwanda in the lead up to the genocide of 1994, because there are aspects of this book that I just hated.

First of all, Gentille and Valcourt are supposed to be in love but it is really not shown, only said. And there is something about they came together and how their story is described that just felt very uncomfortable. Added t
Valcourt is a Quebecois living in Rwanda. He truly loves the land and has found his place in life. Staying at the Mille Collines, he meets and falls in love with Gentille. Gentille is a Hutu who looks like a Tutsis. She is in grave danger during the genocide. Valcourt wants to marry her but sees no reason to leave the country. Despite seeing the bodies of his friends who have been murdered, he continues to stay.

The reader is really stretched in understanding why someone would put a person he is
The story itself in this book is mediocre. I didn't really connect with any of the characters until about 3/4 of the way through.

The subject matter in this book is...tragic...heart-breaking...mind-numbing...made-me-sob...unbelievable-until-you-know-it-really-happened.

The last 1/4 of the book is horrendous in a way that I was not prepared for. It broke me. I sobbed uncontrollably for a situation that a vast majority of the world has never even heard of. My heart broke to think of the public humil
Maxime Ouellet-payeur
De votre vie de lecteur, c'est un des livres qui vous touchera le plus. Cynique, mais triste et ondulant dans un monde entre la fiction et la biographie. Déconseillé aux coeurs sensibles et à ceux qui vivent dans un monde facile. Ce livre ne l'est pas.
The book is a beautiful love story that takes place in Rawanda. It is also an illustration of the subtlety in which a government orchestrated genocide occurs. Here's a powerful paragraph from the book:

"In the towns both large and small, the genocide had been more systematic. Meetings had been organized, watchwords and directives had been given, plans had been laid. If the methods seemed so inhuman, if the killers killed with such savagery, it was not because they were improvising or were out of
Feb 19, 2011 Annalie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalie by: Good Beginnings
This book definitely rudely shook me out of my emotional comfort zone and gave me improved insight into the genocide and the resulting and ongoing physical and mental suffering in Rwanda. I still do not quite understand what drove apparently ordinary people to commit those over-the-top violent acts? I found the style of writing stilted and artificial, but that could be due to awkward translation. I also thought the sexual content was at times too much, too explicit and confronting; probably unne ...more
I really liked the way this book starts with the description of the Aid Workers, Journalists, and other foreign expats gathered around the pool pontificating and lusting. I admired that the book did not shy away from describing the first wave of death that occurred right before the genocide - the one tied to AIDS. One image stands out when the newly arrived Canadian consulate worker commented that he didn't expect so many community gardens and is told that those are cemeteries for AIDS victims.

If I could split this book up into sections for ratings I would rate it like this: 1 star for the beginning, 3 for the middle, and 5 for the end. Towards the end, it got horrific and oh so gripping. I disliked the characters, I disliked the writing, and I hated the way this book portrayed African men as sex obsessed animals. But I loved the last couple pages which were more gripping and thought provoking then all the other pages combined.
Sebastien Castell
This is a difficult book to review. It's well-written, original, and gives the reader insight into not only a terrible chapter in recent history but into the wider pattern of insensitivity that led to the Rwandan massacre. But none of that means you'll enjoy reading the book. The main characters are kept at a distance from the reader - their thoughts and emotions explained by the author rather than shared. The callous brutality of the villains in the book is muted by the way they're all lumped i ...more
There were some powerful scenes and a paragraph or two of beautiful imagery and language and yes it was a story that was so harrowing it was hard to read but I am afraid that the sexual content on every page started to seem like titillation rather than the horrifying depiction of rape and abuse that was probably intended.The "tender" sex between Gentille and Valcourt no doubt was to contrast with the horror but just didn't work for me. All the characters could think of nothing but sex ie the rid ...more
Yara Kodershah
This book is definitely not the sanitized, white-washed version of the Rwandan genocide that often perforates "western" media and understanding. It's an incredibly sobering read overall. The matter-of-fact tone the narrator takes when reciting the particulars of the violent acts that took place during that time were really graphic and difficult to read, but given that the text locates itself as being critical of the western narrative, it only makes sense that the text be as starkingly 'honest' a ...more
Interesting novel of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, but the very unnecessarily graphic sex and violence detracts a great deal from the book
Couldn't get into it, so I ended it. The fact that is was compared to Heart of Darkness should have warned me off alone!
I didn't like the writing style.
David Meldrum
A hard book to come to terms with - not that it's hard to read, or overly traumatic (though it is both artful and horrific); it's the obsession with graphic sex. It's possible the author is going for eve-of-apocalypse type of feel with the explicit sex; it could be a way of tapping into base desires. It could be many things, but it's hard to say - especially without knowing the author's work. Disturbing as it is, it left me strangely emotionally unengaged. It's impressive and something to admire ...more
I was going to give this book 2 stars but gave it another star because this book tells ugly, unglamorous, unreadable truths.
The first half of the book is mostly about AIDS. The spread of HIV. The knowing spread of HIV by many of the characters. The ones who have the disease and still have goals of sleeping with every woman in the marketplace. Without a condom. And they were not ignorant uninformed people.
I had to check myself because it was hard to care for such people. But I knew what heading t
Michael Katz
Another translation! I seem to be reading lots of translations lately. This is a gripping novel, set just before, during and after the Rwandan genocide by Hutus of Tsusis. Knowing that horrific massacres are imminent permeates every event in the novel, overshadows the love story bewteen the main characters, Bernard and Gentille. Courtemarche draws the character of Gentille sympathetically, a Hutu girl that looks like a Tsusi. There is some unnecessary backstory about how her grandfather and grea ...more
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Gil Courtemanche est journaliste depuis 1962.

Jusqu’en 1977, il a collaboré à différentes émissions radio et télé de Radio-Canada telles que Le 60, Métro Magazine et Présent national.

De 1978 à 1980, pour Radio-Canada toujours, il a conçu et animé l’émission L’Événement et a aussi été animateur et scripteur de l’émission Enjeux, tout en étant éditorialiste à la sation CBOT à Ottawa (réseau anglais).
More about Gil Courtemanche...
A Good Death Je ne veux pas mourir seul Le monde, le lézard et moi Le camp des justes Douces colères: journal

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“Propaganda is as powerful as heroin; it surreptitiously dissolves all capacity to think.” 10 likes
“What is a country for someone who is neither a soldier nor a rabid patriot? A place of subtle affinities, an implicit understanding between the land and the foot that treads it. A familiarity, an agreement, a secret sharing with the colours and smells of it. The impression that the wind is with us and is sometimes carrying us. A renunciation that does not imply acceptance of the idiocy and inhumanity that the country nurtures.” 3 likes
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