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Life Journeys

Small Country

Exclusive
Debut

by Gaël Faye

Quick take

A young man recounts the twilight of his childhood as his home country of Burundi sinks into war.

Good to know

  • Slow Build

  • Sad

  • Cerebral

  • International

Why I love it

I’ll be honest: This is a slim novel with very a serious subject. But! It is also the kind of book that will stay with you for a long time. Set amidst the beautiful scenery of Africa and based on a dark chapter in Burundi’s history, Small Country—which won France’s most prestigious literary award—is a powerful, important story about family, cultural differences, and war.

Gaby is a boy of ten livin...

Synopsis

“I was born with this story. It ran in my blood. I belonged to it.”

Burundi, 1992. For ten-year-old Gabriel, life in his comfortable expatriate neighborhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother, and little sister Ana, is something close to paradise.

These are carefree days of laughter and adventure—sneaking Supermatch cigarettes and gorging on stolen mangoes—as he...