We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories From Rwanda

Paperback | October 15, 1999

byPhilip Gourevitch

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An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity.

This remarkable debut book chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech--largely by machete--it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Philip Gourevitch his title.

With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival and on how the new leaders of postcolonial Africa went to war in the Congo when resurgent genocidal forces threatened to overrun central Africa.

Can a country composed largely of perpetrators and victims create a cohesive national society? This moving contribution to the literature of witness tells us much about the struggle everywhere to forge sane, habitable political orders, and about the stubbornness of the human spirit in a world of extremity.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

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From Our Editors

Concentrating on the actions of the Rwandan government in April 1994, Philip Gourevitch provides a vivid history of the tragic war in Rwanda. Specifically, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families provides insight into the government forces calling upon the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi m...

From the Publisher

An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity.This remarkable debut book chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing w...

Philip Gourevitch is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a contributing editor to the Forward. He has reported from Africa, Asia, and Europe for a number of magazines, including Granta, Harper's, and The New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.2 × 5.5 × 0.96 inPublished:October 15, 1999Publisher:PicadorLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312243359

ISBN - 13:9780312243357

Customer Reviews of We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories From Rwanda

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking Philip Gourevitch takes one of the most horrifying and terrible events of the late 20th century, and manages to find the elements of hope. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is a graphic account of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which the Hutu Power government led its citizens to slaughter 800,000 of their Tutsi friends and family in only 100 days, while the international community stood by and watched. Gourevitch tells both sides of the story- both those accused of participating in the violence, and those who suffered from it. We read about people like Odette Nyiramilimo, a doctor who had several members of her immediate family killed and Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who protected 1,000 or more Tutsis from harm.We also read about the pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, the clergyman who ignored his doomed ministers' pleas to be spared the killings. What happened in Rwanda was shocking and horrendous and yet there are people who have no idea what happened. This is a painful and difficult book to read, but it must be read so that we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.
Date published: 2009-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Necessary Reading An astounding book revealing the outrage in Rwanda in a way no other author has. If you really wanted to know the background, the events and the people that took part, and were (and are) victims of the Rwandan genocide this is THE book for it. Gourevitch is a journalist, and is not afraid to use his considerable investigative skill partnered with his wounded humanity to find the answers we have all asked about Rwanda. He paints a chilling landscape of good, bad, the corrupt and the innocent. In addition he goes beyond what the world knows as the 'end' of the genocide, and reveals the damaging work done by the NGOs (albeit doing their best) in aiding and abetting the worst of the perpetrators. For anyone who has heard some idiot say 'it's just tribal savagery' or any other such dismissive comment about the African tragedy, this is the book to hand to them.
Date published: 2006-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you ever wondered about what happened in Rwanda This is an excellently written book about the events leading up to, during and after the massacres in Rwanda. Philip Gourevitch gives a moving first hand account of the complex events in Rwanda, drawing on the memories of those who were there: the survivors and perpetrators of the genocide. His historical and political analysis is very astute and broad in its understanding. Most importantly this book is immensely captivating and readable!
Date published: 2000-09-07

Extra Content

Read from the Book

We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our FamiliesPart OneLeontius, the son of Aglaion, was coming up from the Peiraeus, close to the outer side of the north wall, when he saw some dead bodies lying near the executioner, and he felt a desire to look at them, and at the same time felt disgust at the thought, and tried to turn aside. For some time he fought with himself and put his hand over his eyes, but in the end the desire got the better of him, and opening his eyes wide with his fingers he ran forward to the bodies, saying, "There you are, curse you, have your fill of the lovely spectacle." --PLATO, The RepublicDecimation means the killing of every tenth person in a population, and in the spring and early summer of 1994 a program of massacres decimated the Republic of Rwanda. Although the killing was lowtech--performed largely by machete--it was carried out at dazzling speed: of an original population of about seven and a half million, at least eight hundred thousand people were killed in just a hundred days. Rwandans often speak of a million deaths, and they may be right. The dead of Rwanda accumulated at nearly three times the rate of Jewish dead during the Holocaust. It was the most efficient mass killing since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.WE WISH TO INFORM YOU THAT TOMORROW WE WILL BE KILLED WITH OUR FAMILIES. Copyright © 1998 by Philip Gourevitch. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address Picador, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

From Our Editors

Concentrating on the actions of the Rwandan government in April 1994, Philip Gourevitch provides a vivid history of the tragic war in Rwanda. Specifically, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families provides insight into the government forces calling upon the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority.

Editorial Reviews

"[It is the] sobering voice of witness that Gourevitch has vividly captured in his work." -Wole Soyinka, The New York Times Book Review"[Gourevitch] has the mind of a scholar along with the observative capacity of a good novelist, and he writes like an angel. This volume establishes him as the peer of Michael Herr, Ryszard Kapuscinski, and Tobias Wolff. I think there is no limit to what we may expect from him." -Robert Stone"A sobering, revealing, and deeply thoughtful chronicle." -The Boston Globe"The most important book I have read in many years . . . [Gourevitch] examines [the genocidal war in Rwanda] with humility, anger, grief and a remarkable level of both political and moral intelligence." -Susie Linfield, Los Angeles Times"Shocking and important . . . clear and balanced . . . the voice in this book is meticulous and humane." -Michael Pearson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"Astonishing . . . [Gourevitch] is masterful at placing the unspeakability of mass murder into actual people's mouths and inhabiting it in actual people's stories." -Mark Gevisser, Newsday"Unsettlingly beautiful . . . brilliant . . . this is a staggeringly good book . . . [It] should be on bookshelves forever." -Tom Engelhardt, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Employee Review

Gourevitch explores the recent genocide in Rwanda with great insight and sensitivity. One of the most shocking revelations is how complacent towards, and even complicit in the slaughter the west was. It is difficult to say that one enjoys a book that is so painful and horrifying. This is one of those books that cannot be read without it changing your view of the world.