by Philip Gourevitch
Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10
Summary: With devastating clarity, thorough research, and extensive interviews of survivors, Philip Gourevitch investigates the horrors that occurred in Rwanda during 1994. In just three months starting in April 1994, 800,000 Tutsis were killed by the Hutu majority. Unbelievably, it was not simply soldiers or government agents but neighbors, friends, and family members of the Tutsis who participated in the mass genocide. Gourevitch examines not just what led up to the genocide but the aftermath for Rwanda, its people, and the world.
10 Welcome Things about Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families
(May Contain Spoilers)
We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families should be required reading in school, this book has so much educational worth! One of the most important educational piece that Gourevitch includes is the role that colonialism and Western interference had that helped pave the path for the Rwanda genocide.
2. Well Researched
Gourevitch meticulously researched other works on Rwanda in order to write this novel. While his sources are not listed in a reference list, he does include the authors of the works he used in his acknowledgments.
3. Personal Interviews
The most powerful and effective aspects of We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families are the personal stories. Speaking with hundreds of Rwandans, Gourevitch weaves their stories throughout this book and it allows the reader to really understand that these atrocities happened to individual people, it is not a tale of fiction but rather the reality for thousands of Rwandans.
4. Failure of the World
In a perfectly summarized sentence Gourevitch states,
“If Rwanda’s experience could be said to carry any lessons for the world, it was that endangered peoples who depend on the international community for physical protection stand defenseless.”
In so many ways, the international community failed epically and Gourevitch shows this time and time again throughout the novel.
Returning to Rwanda in 1997, Gourevitch looks at how Rwanda has continued on since the genocide. He realizes that the genocide is not just an isolated event but one that will have continued consequences for years to come. And while the rest of the world had moved on, Rwanda had not and even 4 years later ethnic killings continued weekly with no end in sight.
This novel is so vivid and haunting. Descriptions are plentiful and really capture the scenes Gourevitch is painting. There are moving scenes that will be imprinted in the minds of readers forever.
While reading Gourevitch’s novel, it is apparent that he went to great lengths to give as much information as possible while not losing the reader. He writes in a fluid, engaging manner that allows the reader to know dates, facts, and names without being read like a dry history textbook.
While Philip Gourevitch is one of many reporters who have braved visiting a dangerous area in order to get the facts, it doesn’t make it any less impressive. Gourevitch had the courage to not only do the story but to visit Rwanda multiple times and to travel to different areas in the region regardless of the hazards to himself.
Regardless of Gourevitch visiting Rwanda, interviewing hundreds of its people, and doing extensive research, Gourevitch humbly acknowledges that he is an outsider. He comprehends that no amount of visitations or education of Rwanda will allow him to understand the country, its politics, or people fully. He could never truly grasp what it means to be Rwandan, he is and will always be an outsider looking in.
Ultimately, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families is a powerful novel. It truly paints the picture of what humanity is capable of, the horrors we commit against one another but also the beauty in our resiliency and bravery to survive and help each other in times of adversity. The book ends on a hopeful note of a group of schoolgirls refusing to separate based on being Hutu or Tutsi but rather said they were simply Rwandans.