Reading guide for Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Running the Rift

A Novel

by Naomi Benaron

Running the Rift
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2012, 384 pages
    Oct 2012, 400 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Discuss the various ways in which you see the question of identity addressed in Running the Rift.
  2. What reasons do you see for the Tutsi living in Uganda to invade Ruhengeri in 1991? How does it fit into the broader conflict between Hutu and Tutsi? Why do you think Roger joined the RPF?
  3. What can you say about the class system in Rwanda after reading Running the Rift?
  4. How did the Belgians exploit the class system, and how did this exploitation eventually contribute to the genocide?
  5. Running can be seen as a metaphorical theme throughout Running the Rift. Why does Jean Patrick run from any awareness of politics? What challenges does the political reality in Rwanda pose in terms of his own belief system?
  6. Physics and geology are two more themes that run through the novel. How do those subjects work as metaphors? Identify specific examples.
  7. The title Running the Rift can have several meanings. Identify those meanings and discuss how they relate to the narrative.
  8. Discuss the character of Coach. What do you see as his motivations concerning Jean Patrick? Do you see those motivations change over time?
  9. Discuss how Coach's belief system may have changed once the genocide started. Why do you think he took his own life? Do you think he let Jean Patrick live, or did he miss?
  10. Identify issues of "culture clash" with Jonathan and Susanne. Why does Bea sometimes bristle around them, and why does she mistrust Jonathan to speak out on behalf of the Rwandan people?
  11. How do you see the role of the media in the genocide? Does the role change or intensify over the course of the years between 1991 and 1994?
  12. Can you draw any parallels between the media campaign in Rwanda and that in Germany before and during the Holocaust? How about other genocides, such as those in Bosnia or Darfur? Any parallels between Rwanda and what you see happening in the United States?
  13. Given all the disturbing warning signs regarding the approaching genocide, why do you think more Tutsi did not decide to leave before it started? Why do you think Roger didn't insist the family escape earlier?
  14. How do you see Pascal's role in the genocide? Was he guilty of abetting it?
  15. Who, if anyone, do you think acted heroically during the genocide?
  16. There are many nonfiction books addressing the subjects of the Holocaust and genocide more generally. What role do you think fiction plays in telling this kind of story, and how is its role different than that of non- fiction? Why is literature of witness important?
    1. Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Algonquin Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Reactions to The Rwandan Genocide

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.