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The Tears of a Man Flow Inward: Growing Up in the Civil War in Burundi (Hardcover)

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Description


A prizewinning young author tells the moving story of growing up during Burundi’s ethnic civil war in this powerful memoir hailed as “a jewel of a book” (Margaret MacMillan).

“There’s nothing like a great love song, and Pacifique Irankunda sings a beautiful one here to his homeland and to all those who choose love even in the bleakest of times.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers and How Beautiful We Were

Pacifique Irankunda’s childhood in Burundi was marked by a thirteen-year civil war—a grueling struggle that destroyed his home, upended his family, and devastated his country’s beautiful culture. As young boys, Paci and his brother slept in the woods on nights when the shooting and violence grew too intense; they hid in tall grass and watched as military units rolled in and leveled their village. Paci’s extraordinary mother, one of the many inspiring beacons of light in this book, led her children—and others in the village—in ingenious acts of resilience through her indomitable kindness and compassion, even toward the soldiers who threatened their lives.

Drawing on his own memories and those of his family, Paci tells a story of survival in a country whose rich traditions were lost to the ravages of colonialism and ethnic strife.

Written in moving, lyrical prose, The Tears of a Man Flow Inward gives us an illuminating window into what it means to come of age in dark times, and an example of how, even in the midst of uncertainty, violence, and despair, light can almost always be found.

About the Author


Pacifique Irankunda was born in Burundi, a small country in East Africa bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania, and Congo. He came to America at the age of nineteen as a scholarship student at Deerfield Academy in western Massachusetts. His first published work, “Playing at Violence,” appeared in The American Scholar and won a Pushcart Prize. Irankunda was awarded a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant in 2017. He graduated from Williams College with a degree in psychology and political science. He lives in Brooklyn.

Praise For…


“In this moving memoir, Irankunda recalls living through a 13-year civil war that upended his life in Burundi when he was only 4 years old and contemplates the loss of his country’s culture and tradition to the violence.”—The New York Times

“There’s nothing like a great love song, and Pacifique Irankunda sings a beautiful one here to his homeland and to all those who choose love even in the bleakest of times.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers and How Beautiful We Were

“This short memoir, of a boy’s life in a far-off and magical but harshly violent world—and of a young man’s struggle to make sense of it—is sometimes shocking, often moving, and always fascinating. Pacifique Irankunda’s book is hard to put down and impossible to forget.”—Evan Thomas, author of First: Sandra Day O’Connor 

“Pacifique Irankunda tells a story of suffering and cruelty that nevertheless has hope and wisdom running through it.”—Margaret MacMillan, author of War: How Conflict Shaped Us

“Civil wars bring out the worst in us, for they set neighbors and friends against one another. Yet from a childhood lived in that terrible shadow, Pacifique Irankunda has brought forth a finely wrought memoir and a moving meditation on wisdom and justice.” —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and To End All Wars

“Pacifique Irankunda has written a lucid and deeply personal history of Burundi’s brutal colonization and the thirteen-year civil war of which he is a survivor. But for Burundi and Burundians, Irankunda wants more than survival. Drawing on ancient teachings and traditions and on his mother’s extraordinary generosity, his vision for the future is a revelation and a rallying cry we would all, wherever we come from, do well to heed.”—Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks 

“Unsparing, unsentimental, and as sweet as nectar, this account of conflict in Burundi is offered by a witness who was only a few years old when it began. This memoir of exceptional potency includes as many luminous recollections as painful ones, but the steady example of a visionary mother shines most brightly of all. ‘If you have no love,’ she told her sons during the long strife, ‘you’re nobody.’ This taut volume may take only a quiet afternoon or two to read, but it will haunt you, I’ll wager, for long years to come.”Paul Farmer, chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School

“In this elegant debut, Irankunda recounts how he survived the 13-year civil war that defined his childhood. Irankunda was four in 1993 when he and his family, members of the Tutsi minority, were swept up in the ethnic war that dominated Burundi following the assassination of the nation’s Hutu president. . . . [Irankunda has written] a stunning tribute to his land and its people . . . awn intelligent and immensely moving story of resilience.”—Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9780812997644
ISBN-10: 0812997646
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: March 29th, 2022
Pages: 224
Language: English