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Golden Hour Books

Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga (Translated from the French by Melanie Mauthner)

Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga (Translated from the French by Melanie Mauthner)

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Scholastique Mukasonga drops us into an elite Catholic boarding school for young women perched on the edge of the Nile. Parents send their daughters to Our Lady of the Nile to be molded into respectable citizens and to escape the dangers of the outside world. Fifteen years prior to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, we watch as these girls try on their parents’ preconceptions and attitudes, transforming the lycée into a microcosm of the country’s mounting racial tensions and violence. In the midst of the interminable rainy season, everything unfolds behind the closed doors of the school: friendship, curiosity, fear, deceit, prejudice, and persecution. With masterful prose that is at once subtle and penetrating, Mukasonga captures a society hurtling towards horror.

Born in Rwanda in 1956, Scholastique Mukasonga experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of the ethnic conflicts that shook her country. In 1960, her family was displaced to the polluted and under-developed Bugesera district of Rwanda. Mukasonga 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. In the aftermath, Mukasonga learned that thirty-seven of her family members had been massacred. Her first novel, Our Lady of the Nile, won the 2014 French Voices Award, the Renaudot Prize, the Ahamadou Kourouma Award, and was shortlisted for the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award. In 2017 her memoir Cockroaches was a finalist for the LA Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose and later, the New York Times named it one of the “50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years.” Jordan Stump’s translation of her memoir, The Barefoot Woman, was named a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature. In 2019, In 2019, Our Lady of The Nile was adapted into a film by Atiq Rahimi. The film won the “Crystal Bear” at Berlinale 2020 and was part of the Official Selection for TIFF 2019.
Melanie Mauthner studied Modern Languages at Wadham College, Oxford and worked as a sociology lecturer before becoming a translator. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Mauthner performs as part of the London writers’ collective, Malika’s Poetry Kitchen.

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