Running the Rift (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Set in war-torn Rwanda, this Bellwether Prize-winning novel follows the life of a young and athletically gifted Tutsi boy who dreams of becoming his country's first Olympic track medalist. Through his eyes, we are given a window into a country of great beauty that is also one experiencing the horror of unrest between the Tutsi and Hutu people that ultimately fractures into genocide. In the midst of this unspeakable tumult, we also experience the joy and freedom that comes from the protagonist's running, coupled with the warmth and love of his family and friends. It seems wholly improbable that a writer can take a novel about genocide and lift it into one that is ultimately filled with beauty and passion, but Benaron accomplishes this in spades. -- Pam Stirling

— From March 2012

January 2012 Indie Next List

“Named for the Rwandan god of thunder, Jean Patrick Nkuba is destined for Olympic glory. Pushing his body up the misty hills of his village, he dreams not only of fame, but also of bringing peace to his country and equality to his Tutsi compatriots. When the floodwaters of hatred and war with the Hutu burst out over his homeland, Jean Patrick must run a different kind of race in order to survive. Both beautiful and heart-rending, horrific and hopeful, this novel carries a message that deserves to be widely read.”
— Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL


Running the Rift follows the progress of Jean Patrick Nkuba from the day he knows that running will be his life to the moment he must run to save his life. A naturally gifted athlete, he sprints over the thousand hills of Rwanda and dreams of becoming his country's first Olympic medal winner in track. But Jean Patrick is a Tutsi in a world that has become increasingly restrictive and violent for his people. As tensions mount between the Hutu and Tutsi, he holds fast to his dream that running might deliver him, and his people, from the brutality around them.

Winner of the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Naomi Benaron has written a stunning and gorgeous novel that--through the eyes of one unforgettable boy-- explores a country's unraveling, its tentative new beginning, and the love that binds its people together.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781616200428
ISBN-10: 1616200421
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2012
Pages: 384
Language: English