Kibogo: Book summary and reviews of Kibogo by Scholastique Mukasonga

Kibogo

by Scholastique Mukasonga

Kibogo by Scholastique Mukasonga X
Kibogo by Scholastique Mukasonga
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  • Published Sep 2022
    152 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

    Paperback Original.
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Book Summary

A new masterwork of satire, lore, and living memory from the leading voice of French-Rwandan literature.

In four beautifully woven parts, Mukasonga spins a marvelous recounting of the clash between ancient Rwandan beliefs and the missionaries determined to replace them with European Christianity.

When a rogue priest is defrocked for fusing the gospels with the martyrdom of Kibogo, a fierce clash of cults ensues. Swirling with the heady smell of wet earth and flashes of acerbic humor, Mukasonga brings to life the vital mythologies that imbue the Rwandan spirit. In doing so, she gives us a tale of disarming simplicity and profound universal truth.

Kibogo's story is reserved for the evening's end, when women sit around a fire drinking honeyed brew, when just a few are able to stave off sleep. With heads nodding, drifting into the mist of a dream, one faithful storyteller will weave the old legends of the hillside, stories which church missionaries have done everything in their power to expunge.

To some, Kibogo's tale is founding myth, celestial marvel, magic incantation, bottomless source of hope. To white priests spritzing holy water on shriveled, drought-ridden trees, it looms like red fog over the village: forbidden, satanic, a witchdoctor's hoax. All debate the twisted roots of this story, but deep down, all secretly wonder – can Kibogo really summon the rain?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A searing tale of contending gods, religions, and economies in colonial Rwanda...As Mukasonga's story opens, a village subchief, bribed by a 'Colonial' with 'a watch, a pair of sunglasses, a bottle of port wine, two jerry cans of gasoline, [and] a swath of fabric for his wife and daughters,' rounds up the children to serve in the war effort against Germany by harvesting anti-malarial flowers. Other agents of change follow...Drought ensues, and with it the people starve, and with that they recall the old ways...Pensive and lyrical; a closely observed story of cultures in collision." – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Mukasonga draws on Rwanda's colonial history and ancient myths for an intriguing theological satire...Mukasonga complicates the blurry line between history and myth and critiques its relationship to colonialism. This speaks volumes to the power of storytelling." - Publishers Weekly

"Kibogo is a rich novel about how real people and events are transformed into legends, and how those legends empower the marginalized." - Foreword Reviews

This information about Kibogo was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Born in Rwanda in 1956, Scholastique Mukasonga experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of the ethnic conflicts that shook her country. Her family was displaced in 1960, and was later forced to flee to Burundi. She settled in France in 1992, only two years before the brutal genocide of the Tutsi swept through Rwanda, which resulted in the massacre of 37 of her family members. Her previous books Our Lady of the Nile, Cockroaches, The Barefoot Woman, and Igifu have been the recipients of many awards and international acclaim.

Mark Polizzotti is a biographer, critic, translator of more than fifty books, editor, and poet. He is the author of Sympathy for the Traitor, Highway 61 Revisited, and Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton. Polizzotti directs the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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