Five out of six Tutsis were hacked to death with machetes and spears by their Hutu neighbours. In the villages of Nyamata and N’tarama, where, in the first two days of the genocide, over 10,000 Tutsis were massacred in the churches where they sought refuge, Jean Hatzfeld interviewed some of the survivors.
Of all ages, from different walks of life, from orphan teenage farmers to the local social worker, fourteen survivors talk of the genocide, the death of family and friends in the church and in the marshes of Bugesera to which they fled. They also talk of their present life and try to explain and understand the reasons behind the extermination. These horrific accounts of life at the very edge contrast with Hatzfeld’s own sensitive and vivid descriptions of Rwanda’s villages and countryside in peacetime. Into the Quick of Life brings us, in the author’s own words, ‘as close to [the event] as we can ever get’.
‘Surely among the most powerful pieces of journalism of our generation’
How did Writers in Translation support Into the Quick of Life?
To mark the publication of the book Jean Hatzfeld was in conversation with Lt General Romeo Dallaire, author of Shake Hands with the Devil about the Rwandan genocide, at an event in August 2005 at Foyles. The event was chaired by the journalist and writer Linda Melvern and was in association with Survivors Fund, a charitable organisation dedicated to aiding and assisting the survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
Jean Hatzfeld also gave a talk with photographer Nic Dunlop at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 28 August 2005.