Recently Published: Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

I read Naomi Benaron‘s Running the Rift over the holidays, and I think my family may have been frustrated by the way I kept sneaking off to lock myself in the basement and read in peace. As much as I love family games of Yahtzee, Running the Rift transported me straight to Rwanda and I was consumed by Jean Patrick Nkuba’s story. I’m not the only one who loved Benaron’s first novel; Running the Rift received the Bellwether Prize, awarded biennially by Barbara Kingsolver for a manuscript that addresses issues of social justice. Previous winners include The Girl Who Fell from the Sky and Mudbound.

Jean Patrick Nkuba, the central character in Running the Rift, grows up in Rwanda as a smart and talented Tutsi boy who aspires to one day make running the center of his life. As his desire to become Rwanda’s first Olympic medal contender in track increases, Hutu-Tutsi tensions escalate and begin to tear apart Jean Patrick’s life and his country. He is forced to make difficult decisions as the killing begins and the lives of his family, friends, and the woman he loves are endangered. Benaron’s descriptions of Rwanda are wonderful and her characters are emotionally captivating. Once you pass this book on to your friends and family, they’ll understand why you kept slipping away to read by yourself.

See below for an excerpt. We have 3 copies to give away. Want to win one? Just leave a comment here or on our Facebook page. Good luck!

–Irene Newman

Praise for Running the Rift:

“In Naomi Benaron’s Running the Rift, a novel full of unspeakable strife but also joy, humor, and love, ‘hope always [chases] close on the heels of despair,’ thanks to a writer who knows when to keep a steady pace and when to explode into an all-out sprint.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“An auspicious debut … Having worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda, Benaron clearly acquired a very lucid sense of her characters’ lives and of the horrors they endured … While it would be counterintuitive to pronounce this a winning, feel-good story, there is something to be said for hope restored. And Naomi Benaron’s characters say it well.”—The Daily Beast

“Benaron writes with self-assurance, intelligence, and a rare musicality that keeps the reader glued to what’s understandably wrenching subject matter. Her prose, while beautiful, is unsparing, and she doesn’t understate the horrors of the genocide. She is a breathtakingly compassionate writer, one who doesn’t fall into the trap of condescension that befalls many Western authors.”—Michael Schaub, Publishers Lunch

“The politics will be familiar to those who have followed Africa’s crises (or seen Hotel Rwanda), but where Benaron shines is in her tender descriptions of Rwandan’s natural beauty and in her creation of Jean Patrick, a hero whose noble innocence and genuine human warmth are impossible not to love.” Kirkus Reviewsstarred review

Benaron accomplishes the improbable feat of wringing genuine loveliness from unspeakable horror… It is a testament to Benaron’s skill that a novel about genocide … conveys so profoundly the joys of family, friendship, and community.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“First novelist Benaron, who has actively worked with refugee groups, won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for this unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a people and their survival. In addition, she compellingly details the growth and rigorous training of a young athlete. VERDICT Readers who do not shy away from depictions of violence will find this tale of social justice a memorable read, and those interested in coming-of-age stories set in wartime will want it as well. Highly recommended; readers who loved Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner will appreciate.”—Library Journal, starred review  

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25 Comments On This Post:

January 19, 2012
10:25 am
Grace says...

I would love to win a copy!

January 19, 2012
10:26 am
Amy Foxman says...

I’d love a copy – sounds like a great book!

January 19, 2012
10:26 am
Kizzy says...

This books sounds wonderful. I would love a copy.

January 19, 2012
10:27 am
Jeanette says...

I would love to win a copy as well!

January 19, 2012
10:28 am
Pat says...

I would love it. This would be a great read!

January 19, 2012
10:32 am
Nerissa says...

Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to win a copy.

January 19, 2012
10:34 am
Laura says...

Great reviews! I would like to win a copy to read.

January 19, 2012
10:37 am
Ginny Martin Fleming says...

I would love to win a copy, too! Finishing up a book now and will soon need another (of course, that’s kind of a permanent state!). If I win, I’ll do my best to “release” one from my overcrowded bookshelves to put back in circulation!

January 19, 2012
10:38 am
Susan says...

I would love to get my hands on this one. I have been reading about it on other book blogs,and it sounds wonderful.

January 19, 2012
10:40 am
Norma Wilson says...

Striking cover and intriguing opening pages. Would love to read the rest.

January 19, 2012
10:40 am
Chris Cander says...

British historian Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I’m fascinated by stories in which characters must endure the “absolute power” of governments, dictators and extremists, but who are able in some way to overcome inhumane conditions with a capacity to survive that is at once universal and unique. I would love to read Running the Rift.

January 19, 2012
10:50 am
Tiana Trammell says...

Sounds like an awesome read! Would love to win a copy!

January 19, 2012
10:51 am
Linda Bolton says...

Sounds like my kind of read, one I’ll share with friends.

January 19, 2012
10:51 am
Carl says...

I’ve been wanting to get a copy of this book. Now’s my chance! Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

January 19, 2012
10:54 am
Hope says...

I’d love to win a free copy of this book, but either way, I’m looking forward to reading it!

January 19, 2012
11:04 am
Anjelica Whitehorne says...

I’ve been DYING to read this book since it was announced as the winner of the Bellwether! Should be amazing, especially since I just got back from Africa. Can’t wait to get immersed in this story!

January 19, 2012
11:06 am
Lisa D says...

I’ve been reading many books lately that take place in Africa, all over the continent, but had not heard of this author or book. I would love to check it out & spread the word! Thank you & Cheers ~ Lisa

January 19, 2012
11:16 am
Julia says...

Sounds awesome! Would love to win a copy.

January 19, 2012
11:22 am
Robin says...

I’ve been hearing so much about this book. I would love a copy!

January 19, 2012
12:30 pm
melanie says...

This is on my list and I’d love to win a copy! Thanks for the chance.

January 19, 2012
3:08 pm
Brandy Hinrichs says...

I would love to read this book as I am very interested in Africa 🙂

January 19, 2012
7:17 pm
Mike Keltner says...

I would love to see her at Watermark Books in Wichita tonight but won’t be able to attend. Their description of her book makes it sound great and I’d love to have a copy. Thank you!

January 19, 2012
10:12 pm
Linda Johnson says...

I am interested in receiving a copy of this book. Thank you for your consideration of my request.

February 1, 2012
10:03 pm
Glenell says...

I’d love to read this book — I’ll put it on my “list”.

March 19, 2012
12:13 am
Kate Z says...

I read most of my books from the library but my library system didn’t have a copy of this … I bought it, that’s how much I wanted to read it. I figured I could donate it to my library system after I was finished. The book did not disappoint me (and, as a side note, I was happy to see it on the “Hot Right Now” shelf in my local library this afternoon – even though I haven’t donated my copy …. yet!

I finished the book on Friday, the same day George Clooney was arrested. Within an hour of finishing the book (but BEFORE I had heard about the Clooney event), I went to to donate … it was actually there that I learned about Clooney’s arrest. My point is that this book moved me to do SOMETHING.

I still feel like the brown haired girl in the caravan, mouthing “I’m sorry” but I wanted you to know that your book at least inspired me to take SOME action.

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