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The True Sources of the Nile: A Novel Hardcover – April 16, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've read newspaper accounts of genocide in other countries, and have never been able to wrap my mind around it. It's always seemed impossible to understand the motivation for holding on so tightly to longstanding traditions of hatred and brutality. And I have to admit that, like some of the American characters in this novel, I haven't really wanted to think about it. The True Sources of the Nile put faces on the abstract numbers, and helped me understand. I found the characters complex and fascinating--not just the American protagonist, Anne, and her California family, but also the Burundians, especially Anne's lover Jean-Pierre and his sister.
I was fascinated by Burundi, by its culture of secrecy, by its landscape, by Jean-Pierre's attempts to elucidate his country with stories and the occasional folktale. I was also impressed by the convincing portrayal of the world of Northern California--the author is able to convey its New Age quirks without making it just a caricature (for example, a past-life regression scene serves a surprisingly serious purpose). The way the Burundi and California plotlines shed light on each other and weave together thematically is nothing short of amazing. Two things become utterly clear: Burundi's culture is utterly alien to our own, and yet human nature is the same everywhere.Read more ›
This novel, however, ultimately deals with disallusionment, not--as one Amazon reviewer put it--"romance." Though romance is the arena in which the theme of disallusionment most frequently performs, the novel is not at heart a romance: the protagonist's ideals are tested and revised, whereas in true romances such ideals are either abetted or left unexamined.
I found it both wonderful and painful to watch Anna--the relatively young, optimistic protagonist--grapple with the macrocosmic forces of war, clan loyalty and death in Burundi, even as she struggles with these same forces on microcosmic levels with her family in California.
Unlike most white authors who attempt to write their versions of "my Peace Corps years in Africa," Stone presents a un-exoticized Burundi whose history is magnificent, terrible and fractured. Stone shows how the cruelest effect of Beligan and German colonization of what was once Ruanda-Urundi was it's transformation of victims into victimizers--a thread which sadly runs through the whole of human history. Stone's acknowledgement of this as a universal dilemma raises the novel above scores of acerbically written, tsk-tsk novels in which African countries are mere backdrops for Euro-Western proselytizing.
In the "Acknowledgments" section of the novel, Stone concludes, "...it is a human urge to cut a gravestone, out of whatever materials we have." Stone suggests, by way of her incredibly written novel in which both hope and love are tested by the Hutu-Tutsi conflict, that this material is more often than not the human heart.
Buy the book and be amazed.
As I was reading the novel, I did wonder why Annie was with Jean-Pierre.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book arrived on time and I am enjoying the read. It's for our book club, so the discussions should be very interesting!Published 18 months ago by Mrs. A.
This is such a courageous, beautiful, and significant novel, compelling and utterly engaging. Upon coming to the end, I had that tremendous sense of happiness and loss that makes... Read morePublished on March 25, 2010 by Harriet Chessman
This has the distinction of being the worst book I have read in at least the last year. A totally unrealistic love affair fills the pages with the most amazingly perfect... Read morePublished on April 13, 2005 by Portland reader
Perhaps I would have enjoyed this book had I not recently finished "We Regret to Inform You..." (which I highly recommend). Read morePublished on February 16, 2005 by spanakopita NJ
I read this book in two days and immediately purchased three more to give to friends. I highly recommend it. Read morePublished on August 18, 2004 by a reader
My previous review was deleted because I used the word "dreck."
This book would trade the massacres of Rwanda and Burundi for a soapy Mill Valley love affair, and I... Read more
First of all, this was one gripping read--I'm usually too busy to devour books in one weekend, but this one had me. Read morePublished on June 25, 2002
Blurbs from Andrea Barrett and Charles Baxter brought me to this book, which I found underdeveloped and unaffecting. Read morePublished on June 4, 2002 by Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader