Muhammad Kamil al-Khatib’s Just Like A River (Arris Books, NI 359) got a five-star fiction rating. This superbly intricate narrative follows the lives of a cross-section of Damascus society against a background of escalating tension. The book’s 100 or so pages touch upon large themes while maintaining a sharp focus on the intimate human scale of events.
Also outstanding was A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali (Canongate, NI 358), a thoughtful first novel by Gil Courtemanche set in Rwanda in the days leading up to the 1994 genocide. Our reviewer says: ‘This is one that has stayed with me and that I have thought about time and again’. A moving and brave meditation on love and evil, it also serves as a scathing indictment of an inert ‘international community’.
In the non-fiction category, Paul Kingsnorth’s One No, Many Yeses (Verso, NI 358) got top marks for readability, scope and inspiration. A gripping, highly personable travelogue, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to get up to speed with the growing social justice movement.
Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell (Westview Press, NI 356) is first-rate journalistic sleuthing, tracing the violence-soaked webs that link the legitimate diamond trade, shady dealers, rebels without a conscience, and organizations such as Hizbollah and al-Qaeda.