Running the Rift

Running the Rift follows 10 years in the life of Nkuba Jean Patrick, a Tutsi in Rwanda at the height of the Hutu-Tutsi conflict. Jean Patrick is a phenomenal runner, specializing in the 800-meter race. He holds fast to the idea that becoming an Olympic winner for Rwanda will have a unifying effect and deliver his people from violence.

Jean Patrick's entire focus is on running; he's largely oblivious to the political situation in his country. As a consequence, he is constantly being robbed and attacked by Hutu bullies, unwilling to believe that people who were once his friends are now enemies. Interwoven with Jean Patrick's story is a retelling of the long history of strife between the two tribes. Jean Patrick's ability to shut out reality comes to an abrupt halt when the Hutu genocide against the Tutsis begins.

His beloved Bea and her family--Hutus--tell him to flee to Burundi. He runs--runs for his life--and is finally found by his geology professor, Jonathan, and given a ride to safety.

What happens to Jean Patrick's family and friends, to Bea and her family, is for the reader to discover. But there are few happy endings in a country ravaged by genocide. Benaron is an advocate for African refugees, has worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda and is an Ironman triathlete. This debut novel won the Bellwether Prize, created and funded by author Barbara Kingsolver to promote fiction that addresses issues of social justice. A more fitting choice would be hard to find. --Valerie Ryan

Powered by: Xtenit