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Extended Audio Sample Running the Rift, by Naomi Benaron Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,254 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Naomi Benaron Narrator: Marcel Davis Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Imagine that a man who was once friendly suddenly spewed hatred. That a girl who flirted with you in the lunchroom refused to look at you. That your coach secretly trained soldiers who would hunt down your family. Jean Patrick Nkuba is a gifted Tutsi boy who dreams of becoming Rwanda’s first Olympic medal contender in track. When the killing begins, he is forced to flee, leaving behind the woman, the family, and the country he loves. Finding them again is the race of his life.

Spanning ten years during which a small nation was undone by ethnic tension and Africa’s worst genocide in modern times, this novel explores the causes and effects of Rwanda’s great tragedy from Nkuba’s point of view. His struggles teach us that the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit can keep us going and ultimately lead to triumph.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It is exceptionally difficult to fictionalize a relatively recent mass murder without either cheapening the tragedy or becoming bogged down in grim reportage—but Ms. Benaron does a smart, sober job of it…Running the Rift is well-paced but always makes time to demonstrate the apparatus of genocide.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Benaron depicts the rugged beauty of Rwanda and the horror of genocide vividly in these pages. She writes with an earnest clarity bringing the boy to manhood and imparting to readers a culturally rich and unflinching story of resilience and resistance.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “An auspicious debut…Having worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda, Benaron clearly acquired a very lucid sense of her characters’ lives and of the horrors they endured…While it would be counterintuitive to pronounce this a winning, feel-good story, there is something to be said for hope restored. And Naomi Benaron's characters say it well.”

    Daily Beast

  • “It is a testament to Benaron’s skill that a novel about genocide—about neighbors and friends savagely turning on one another—conveys so profoundly the joys of family, friendship, and community. This powerful novel recounts inhumanity on a scale scarcely imaginable, yet rebukes its nihilism, countering unforgivable violence with small mercies and unyielding hope.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[An] unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a people and their survival. In addition, [Benaron] compellingly details the growth and rigorous training of a young athlete.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A powerful coming-of-age story that highlights the best and the worst of human nature.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “A novel full of unspeakable strife but also joy, humor, and love.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Audacious and compelling…It’s a brave writer…who takes a subject as historically complex and gravid with emotion as this one as the background to her first novel, and Benaron has to be loudly applauded for her bravura and heartfelt attempt to encapsulate and document this corner of twentieth-century bestiality through her story of a young man’s teenage and early adult years…Benaron does not spare us any of the abominations of the genocide, but her denouement is surprisingly redemptive.”

    Washington Post

  • Selected for the January 2012 Indie Next List
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, January 2012
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize
  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Deb | 2/19/2014

    " good read. sloooow start but worth it! an education on rwandan culture and genocide. so sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Yogini | 2/11/2014

    " I am not fond of the style but this book did get me interested in this subject and made me want to visit this country. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Gina | 1/26/2014

    " Beautifully written. Definitely shines a light on life in Rwanda leading up to and after mass genocide in the 90s, as seen through the eyes of Jean Patrick as he grows from boy to man. As a reader, I felt as if I was in the thick of it all.Benaron is a gifted story-teller. So glad I stumbled onto this novel. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Eileen | 1/25/2014

    " This is one powerful story. IT's about a young boy named Jean Patrick, and his coming-of-age story.Also his dreams to become a great runner. It's also a story about the Rwanda Genocide which breaks my heart. I actually was very ignorant about what went down during that time of horrific acts of death. This story taught me much about loving and how bad people can hate each other. The story is remarkable and the is country beautiful and the writer tells it with such elegance. In a time so filled with ugliness she shows us complete beauty. She is a great author and I did enjoy the book. "

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About the Author
Author Naomi Benaron

Naomi Benaron earned an MFA from Antioch University and an MS in earth sciences from Scripps Institute of Oceanography. She teaches at Pima Community College and online through the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. An advocate for African refugees in her community, she has worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda. She has won the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction and the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. She is also an Ironman triathlete.