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The Past Ahead

A Novel

Gilbert Gatore. Translated by Marjolijn de Jager

Publication Year: 2012

The Past Ahead is the story of the destinies of two people after their experiences of the genocide in Rwanda. Isaro is orphaned, exiled, and now returned to her native country. Niko is a character in a novel that Isaro writes to help her understand her country's recent horrific past. Isaro's quest to recover the memory of the life she has lost is haunted by her nightmare imaginings, whose horror is given expression through Niko, a mute social outcast. When an army intent on massacre reaches his village, the once gentle young man is forced to become a killer. After the fighting ends, Niko retreats to a cave that he shares with a family of gorillas to try to escape the burden of his guilt. In his solitude, he is plagued with painful memories that will not leave him. As Isaro writes Niko's story, she succumbs to the sadness of death, violence, and the dreadful reminders of her terrible past. Stunning and powerfully written, Gatore's novel lays bare the unfathomable human cost of this international tragedy.

Published by: Indiana University Press

THE PAST AHEAD

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-x

The translator wishes to express her sincere gratitude to Dee Mortensen, senior editor at Indiana University Press, and to Dominic Thomas, professor of French & Francophone studies at University of California, Los Angele...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xi-xiv

While working on the translation of Gilbert Gatore’s novel, I kept asking myself two questions. First, why had he written this particular novel? It is a story in which Niko, one of the two protagonists, is developed in such...

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CHAPTER ONE

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pp. 3-13

2. Today, like yesterday and the day before, when night falls, Utiwonze, Uwera, and Shema come out of their holes to keep watch together. Niko, who himself is being watched by the monkeys, observes them from the opening...

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CHAPTER TWO

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pp. 14-24

32. The cave Niko discovers resembles the one he’s spent years imagining in almost no way at all. When you enter it, the passageway widens as you move forward, opening into the first hollow space. His immediate plan is to make that his living area. Light and wind sometimes come...

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CHAPTER THREE

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pp. 25-32

60. When the first two shots rang out, the monkeys had scattered into the forest, while Niko remained sprawled among the melons. Had the one monkey come to him to wake him up and flee with him? That’s when the...

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CHAPTER FOUR

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pp. 33-38

78. Niko has fallen asleep and when he wakes up he’s stretched out a few steps from the entrance to the cave. A smell of flesh and blood surprises him, and then he remembers what’s happened. Next to him, the eye of the monkey...

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CHAPTER FIVE

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pp. 39-47

88. Usually, any little detail is enough to prompt Niko’s mind to stray into endless digressions. And yet, here, nothing that goes on around him arouses any musing in him whatever. He doesn’t try to figure out what the monkeys have against him nor whether he’s right in interpreting their...

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CHAPTER SIX

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pp. 48-58

95. Ever since he was born, Niko had lived inside himself. He’d been told it wasn’t a problem, and he’d never had any reason not to believe that. From the very beginning he’d been inclined to accept everything. 96. The day he was born had coincided with the rainy season, which at this latitude can...

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CHAPTER SEVEN

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pp. 59-68

114. As he grew older, Niko felt less and less like playing, and his daydreams were no longer an entertaining escape but rather the disconcerting echo of his loneliness. Being alone is one thing, but being aware of it...

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CHAPTER EIGHT

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pp. 69-77

136. Niko’s dream goes beyond the scattering of his body. That vision is just the beginning of a whole series of still more incredible experiences. 137. In his dream, all the pieces land in one of the large containers stored on the shelves of the workshop and come together again to shape a new Niko...

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CHAPTER NINE

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pp. 78-87

153. Getting up at last, recovered from his blackout, Niko had the odd sensation that the air had changed; it entered his nostrils with greater difficulty and blocked his lungs like a gooey liquid. Besides being heavy, the air...

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CHAPTER TEN

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pp. 88-99

182. When no trace whatsoever was left of the massacres, Niko went right back to work at the forge. Generally speaking, business wasn’t as good as it had been before, for lack of customers, but no one complained—especially not Niko, for whom things couldn’t be worse, in any case, than when...

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

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pp. 100-106

206. With time Niko is sure he’s a kind of prisoner of the monkeys. He must stay where he is, surrounded by them or at least within sight of the one who guards him. His activity is restricted to staying in the cave, following the group when it goes out in search of food, and for the rest of the...

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CHAPTER TWELVE

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pp. 107-113

214. Reduced to the most extreme acquiescence, Niko still managed to preserve one uncontrollable part of himself. In his nook, everything he was except for his physical body was blooming. 215. Far from this resilient bit of ground, where darkness covered him, Niko stared at the three...

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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pp. 114-120

235. Niko realized that Uwitonze, Uwera, and Shema had come here only to wait for death. Nothing they do links them to life. They’re lying down most of the time, and at dusk they go out. That is all they do. 236. As if they’d agreed on it beforehand, the three of them have built their shelters side by side. They’ve...

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GILBERT GATORE

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pp. 121-

GILBERT GATORE was born in Rwanda in 1981. Forced to flee his country with his family in 1994, he found refuge in what was then Zaire and came to France in 1997. During the civil war, he kept a diary that was later lost during his escape. In...


E-ISBN-13: 9780253009500
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253006653

Page Count: 138
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Global African Voices