Story is the thing, isn’t it? An evening of storytelling at Kepler’s quarterly reading series. The evening’s theme was Unsent Letter. I shared my short story ‘Thy Neighbor.’ Read the extract:
It was exactly a decade after the 1994 genocide, but innocuous sites like ‘the convent’, ‘the university’ and ‘the hospital’ still bore evidence of massacre, such as an exhumed mass grave, or a wall pockmarked by bullets. In Holland, sixty years after the Holocaust, we still spoke the word ‘Jew’ in a whisper and similarly, I found that in Rwanda nobody dared to speak the words Tutsi and Hutu aloud, except for Jeremiah. Jeremiah disliked Rwandans, especially Tutsi the principle target of the genocidal massacres, and when we were alone, he told me the specific things he disliked about them. ‘Have you noticed,’ he said, ‘how they are so shallow, so obsessed with beauty?’ He pitched his voice an octave: ‘This one is beautiful, but that one has an African nose, ugly.’ I had never heard such vitriol outside of academic research about Hutu Power and colonial Belgian hate speech and ideology that fueled the massacre of ‘1 million in 100 days.’ And I was surprised enough the first time that I laughed aloud. I reacted the same way when I was an adolescent and my sister told me that white people stink. But I stopped laughing because if you laugh twice you are a bigger ass than the bigot. My disapproving silence never dissuaded him and I became certain, listening to his provocations, that Jeremiah was a shushushu: An informant, trying to lure me into expressing my own genocidal mentality or allegiance to dissidents, both of which were treasonable offences in Rwanda.
Details of the line up and bios here.