Thursday, July 17, 2014

Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda

This was a difficult book to read, in every possible way. A graphic novel about the genocide in Rwanda is bound to be, well, graphic. Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda begins with an introduction to the events of the 1993-1994 massacre of the Tutsi people by Hutu majority. I know almost nothing about this time period; I haven't even seen Hotel Rwanda. I did learn the basics from J.P. Stassen's book, but there is so much more to learn.

In addition to the difficulty of the subject matter, the story does not flow easily. The narrative skips around, with frequent flashbacks that are not noticeable by a change in color or anything else. I used the state of Deogratias' shirt to know if I was in the past or present. In his most dire moments, Deogratias transforms into a dog, which was also confusing, at first.

I am a huge proponent of using graphic novels to teach history. This is a book that would need serious consideration before bringing into a high school classroom. There is a lot of vulgar language, and the images are disturbing. Many of the victims were raped before they were murdered, and this is clear in the illustrations. There is a lot to learn from Deogratias…make sure that you have full administrative support before sharing.

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