Kinyamaswa: An Epic Poem
Reviewed By: Avraham Azrieli
Avraham Azrieli is the author of "The Jerusalem Inception" and other novels. His website is: www.AzrieliBooks.com
Told in verse and prose, “Kinyamaswa: An Epic Poem” by Andreas Morgner is a story set against the experiences of several refugees, beginning with the horrors of Rwanda’s genocidal war and its aftershocks.
What distinguishes “Kinyamaswa” (“Merciless”) is the compounding of its beautiful prose with the authentic drama and credible life-and-death recounting of men and woman as prey. Furthermore, indelible dramatic impact is imprinted on the reader by the expressions of humane kindness, generosity, and courage, shown to others while being chased through Africa’s harsh landscape by those who had lost their humanity. For example:
“When he reached Father Pierre,
the Commander stopped and
looked at him with haunted eyes.
A pistol in his hand that still
exhaled a wisp of smoke.
Is she gone? he said indicating
a woman lying next to Father Pierre.
Yes, Father Pierre replied.
So many, the Commander said,
looking at the gun as if seeing it
for the first time, so many, by my own hand.
While not for the fainthearted reader, “Kinyamaswa” is at once explicit, bloody, and understated. The violence is depicted without shrill or exaggeration, which makes the work that much stronger. The relationships that develop among the group are portrayed with credibility, tenderness, and sensitivity; fear and animosity contrast with compassion and love. By deploying the dramatic effects of storytelling with the artistic tools of the lyrical medium, the author excels in transporting the reader to a strange, fascinating, terrifying, and ultimately redeeming world that actually existed at a time and place not so far away. With the intensity of a page-turner, the veracity of poetic justice, and the humanity of an epic struggle between good-and-evil, “Kinyamaswa” delivers a terrific literary journey. Highly recommended!