A marriage of sport and politics in the year of the Olympics seemed a good enough reason for me to pick up Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron which delves into life in Rwanda in the lead up to the tragic genocide that will forever be part of their history.
Jean Patrick moves through this book growing from a young boy who loses his father, to become an athlete striving to get to the Olympics, but who cannot avoid being thrust into the political world of Hutu and Tutsi and the struggle for power. The author captures the growing tension of day to day life and the different structure that governs the world of the Tutsi, unable to chose their own course of study at school or even attend school unless they are first in their class.
For me this was a revealing look into the world before the genocide and life after as people sought to put their lives back together, find loved ones and fight for the future of a country that was theirs. In awarding it the Bellwether prize for fiction, Barbara Kingsolver called it "culturally rich and completely engrossing". High praise, well deserved.