In 1994, the akazu, Rwandan’s political elite, planned the genocidal mass slaughter of 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi and Hutu who lived in the country. Given the failure of the international community to acknowledge the genocide, in 1998, ten African authors visited Rwanda in a writing initiative that was an attempt to make partial amends. In this multidimensional novel, Abdourahman A. Waberi claims, "Language remains inadequate in accounting for the world and all its turpitudes, words can never be more than unstable crutches, staggering along... And yet, if we want to hold on to a glimmer of hope in the world, the only miraculous weapons we have at our disposal are these same clumsy supports." Shaped by the author’s own experiences in Rwanda and by the stories shared by survivors, Harvest of Skulls stands twenty years after the genocide as an indisputable resource for discussions on testimony and witnessing, the complex relationship between victims and perpetrators, the power of the moral imagination, and how survivors can rebuild a society haunted by the ghost of its history.
Preface Post-Genocide Rwanda
And the dogs feasted
No, Kigali is not sad
Return to Kigali
Note on translations
"An elegant writer-novelist."
RFI Voices of the World
"One of the main agendas of Abdourahman Waberi's work is the subversion of stereotyped and hegemonic perceptions of the African continent. He employs sarcasm, irony and biting satire in his efforts to reclaim history, blur polarities and humanize the conceptual landscape."
Kate Kelsall, author of The Culture Trip
"One of the more inventive of a new wave of African writers, Waberi is also unique in the range of his influences."
contributor to Vanity Fair and Words without Borders
"Waberi is equally at ease recounting the tragic fate and tumultuous nature of current events in Africa as he is evoking the pulsating beauty of its landscape and the luminous memory."
"Abdourahman Waberi is a land surveyor who assembles his stories from glittering kaleidoscopic beads: modern in form, schooled on the writing of authors such as Nurrudin Farah, Sole Woyinka or Derek Walcott, poetic and ironic in tone – and mercilessly direct when it comes to pointing out the African traumas of colonisation, the struggle for independence, civil war, dictatorship and catastrophic famine... Harvest of Skulls is a book opposing forgetfulness."
Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD
"'Harvest of Skulls' describes people's first hand experience with the Rwandan genocide through interviews that Waberi did with citizens whose family and friends were killed in the genocide. Although this read is emotionally taxing, at only 80 pages the book will help you understand what happened through the lens of personal stories."
The GW Hatchet
"The novel's fractured form lends the subject matter depth and scale; while the stories are each personal and intimate, the collective pain is vast.... Though brief, the novel poses large questions and insinuates itself into an ongoing literary discussion about how to record the horrific acts of the genocide. From the first line, Waberi's stunning book pays testimony to his delicate dilemma: 'One almost feels like opening with an apology for the very existence of this work.'"