The Past Ahead

9780253006653: Hardback
Release Date: 4th October 2012

9780253006660: Paperback
Release Date: 4th October 2012

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 138

Series Global African Voices

Indiana University Press

The Past Ahead

A Novel

Written by and Edited by
Gilbert Gatore
Translated by
Marjolijn De Jager
Hardback / £47.00
Paperback / £15.99

The Past Ahead is the story of the destinies of two people after their experiences of the genocide in Rwanda. Isaro is orphaned, exiled, and now returned to her native country. Niko is a character in a novel that Isaro writes to help her understand her country's recent horrific past. Isaro's quest to recover the memory of the life she has lost is haunted by her nightmare imaginings, whose horror is given expression through Niko, a mute social outcast. When an army intent on massacre reaches his village, the once gentle young man is forced to become a killer. After the fighting ends, Niko retreats to a cave that he shares with a family of gorillas to try to escape the burden of his guilt. In his solitude, he is plagued with painful memories that will not leave him. As Isaro writes Niko’s story, she succumbs to the sadness of death, violence, and the dreadful reminders of her terrible past. Stunning and powerfully written, Gatore’s novel lays bare the unfathomable human cost of this international tragedy.

Gilbert Gatore was born in Rwanda in 1981. During the civil war, he kept a diary that was later lost during his escape. He began writing fiction in an attempt to recreate the impressions recorded in his diary.

Marjolijn de Jager is a translator who specializes in Francophone African literature. She received the Distinguished Member Award from the African Literature Association in 2011.

A real novel where memories comprise the trauma of a lost diary.

Presse Regional (France)

The Past Ahead is a novel of blurred lines, the alternately healing and destructive power of memory, and irrepressible nature of truth. If we can only truly understand genocide through the art it inspires, then Gatore's The Past Ahead is as close a historical account of the atrocities of war and both the resilience and malleability of the human spirit as we can hope to receive.

Big Muddy

The slow realization that everything is wrong.

Foreign Policy

At the beginning of the genocide, writer Gilbert Gatore opens an abyss. The Past Ahead is the history, powerful and marvelous, of an executioner and a victim.

Ouest France

Surviving the Rwandan tragedy, Gilbert Gatore at age 26 has published a strong first novel the poses universal questions with delicacy and courage.

Livres et idees (France)

...[a] vibrant work of fiction that explores what it takes to make a monster out of ahuman being, and challenges the definition of survivor.


As a child, he witnessed the murderous folly of identification cards. Thanks to fiction, he closely approaches horror that is impossible to utter.