Deogratias Niyizonkiza faces a paradox at the beginning of Tracy Kidders book. He is a Burundian Tutsi who has survived the 1993 genocide to start a new life in America, and he is inescapably haunted by what he has just been through. But how can he remember the people he lost in the massacre and tame his own horrendous memories if Burundian culture prohibits even speaking the names of the dead? To gusimbura someone, to talk about them after they have died, is profane because it reminds people of loss, bringing something bad from the past into the present. Yet to not talk about the thousands of people brutally slaughtered throughout his country is to allow those events to vanish.
Tracy Kidders solution to this paradox is to twist the chronology of Deos story in his telling of it. The first half of Strength in What Remains takes place in 1994, when Deo was pretty much ...
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