In Rwanda in the 1990s, Bernard Valcourt, a Canadian, spends time at a hotel frequented by many other foreign nationals. Valcourt is trying to set up a television station and to draw attention to the AIDS crisis that is raging, officially ignored, in Kigali and elsewhere in Rwanda. However, he finds himself in a precarious position. He does not truly understand the crisis he is committed to exploring. He does not understand, for example, the complicated social rules that make people willingly pass on the virus – sometimes indifferently, and sometimes as part of a plan for revenge. Valcourt also finds that despite his hard work, he has a hard time getting the television station going, even after years of trying.
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Valcourt's life is made even more complicated by two events. First, civil war seems imminent in Rwanda as some individuals start spreading propaganda about the Tutsi ethnic group. Secondly, Valcourt falls in love with Gentille, a Hutu waitress who looks very much like a Tutsi. As tensions and violence build in Kigali, Valcourt courts Gentille, hoping to make her his wife. However much Gentille and his friends try to persuade Valcourt to leave the country with the other white nationals, Valcourt refuses. He has fallen in love with Rwanda and its beauty as much as he has fallen in love with Gentille. Once the plan for genocide starts to be implemented, though, Valcourt realizes that the beautiful Gentille is threatened by her Tutsi appearance and he needs to find a way to keep both Gentille and himself safe in an increasingly hostile environment.
The review of this Book prepared by A. A.