So Our Men Cry
Original title: Ainsi pleurent nos hommes
Finally, a novel that has found the words to describe how difficult it is for men to come to terms with themselves in a post-genocide Rwanda, where, between the weight of the past and the mandate of the present to reconcile and rebuild, there is little room for emotions. In a culture that drills it into little boys through dictations that their tears must be shed on the inside, the bent and broken characters brought to life by Dominique Celis tell another story about men, one of tenderness and complexity. — Gaël Faye, bestselling author of Petit Pays
As daily life hums on, today’s Rwandan society must grapple with yesterday’s legacy of genocide. A dark collective history is woven together with an extraordinary love story in this scintillating debut novel.
Kigali, 2018. After her breakup with Vincent, Erika finds herself at the end of the line and turns to writing to her sister to try and “exorcise” the heartbreak, which still haunts her, from her body. She tells not only her story, but also the story of the broken people she loves, who, like her, have dared to live on. James, her de facto brother, Manzi, the seductive karateka, Mama Colonel, and Tonton Damas come together, hearts overflowing like the foamy beers at their local tavern, to build a new family that will become a shining light throughout this novel.
Rwanda, a magnificent country full of flourishing hillsides, is also a place where every individual has had to turn the page after the genocide of the Tutsi. Dominique Celis, who grew up there, shows how, despite the state’s mantra of national unity, Rwandans have had to “forever lock away their grief.” Old wounds get reopened daily when it’s not uncommon to cross paths with former executioners at the gas station or on the calm banks of Lake Kivu… The two lovers are haunted by the memory of those they lost during the 1994 massacres: for Erika, it was her aunts, for Vincent, his whole family.
In this gripping debut novel, the ardent voice of Erika tells the story of a love that dares to defy a tragic past. Even as Vincent leaves her, their visceral passion does not weaken. She is a woman full of regret but filled with desire, who writes dazzling letters because “nothing wants to be erased” from her skin.
- Longlisted for the Prix Méduse 2022