... stories of strength, suffering, and endurance ... Most of the speakers are very young, and their innocence underscores the horror of their situations ... These stories are intimate portraits of young people with no choice but to carry on. The heartbreaking realities of their plights are balanced by absorbing glimpses into Tutsi culture and the characters’ unquenchable senses of hope. Their resilience is inspiring, while their need to be resilient is a tragic reminder of the consequences of prejudice and unthinking hatred ... a poignant collection about the effects of trauma on tradition, community, and individuals.
... five heartrending stories ... Mukasonga’s superbly crafted stories leave the reader with a deep sense of desolation, thanks, in part, to her deft use of metaphor ... Yet these stories are not devoid of joy and hope. The fortitude and perseverance of the Tutsi women; the bonds that unite neighbors, who put aside grudges and pull together in times of need; the beautiful milking rituals of the Tutsi farmers; the willingness of one woman to raise another’s child, should it be necessary—these particulars leave the reader with profound appreciation for the resilience and generosity of the Tutsi people ... a wonderful and important book, one that will expose most Western readers to unexpected new worlds.
The stories in this collection, translated from the French by Jordan Stump, work...[by] narrating individual experiences and resisting the pull toward parable ... The matter-of-fact psychological probity of Mukasonga’s work is akin to the piercing memoirs of Annie Ernaux and the early novels of Edna O’Brien. She also shares their gift for writing about childhood ... With visceral immediacy, Mukasonga captures the children’s creeping fear and desperation as they grow weak from starvation ... Mukasonga's work is a lament for a destroyed world[.]