Scholastique Mukasonga is a social worker and author originally born in Rwanda and who moved to France in the early 1990s. Cockroaches is her account of growing up in Rwanda during the late 1950s through the early 1970s and subsequent visits back to the country over the years. The title for her memoir comes from the term that some from the majority Hutu ethnic group used to describe the Tutsi minority ethnic group.

Through Mukasonga’s childhood memories, the reader gets glimpses into the persecution of the Tutsis by Hutus that helped lead up to the infamous final solution or mass murder of the Tutsis and more moderate Hutus that started in April of 1994 and lasted for 100 days. The final sections of the memoir are a remembrance of her family members, neighbors, and fellow Tutsi community members in the Nyamata region of Rwanda who died during the 1994 massacres.

Mukasonga battles with feelings of guilt over surviving the massacres and persecution, but yet she also feels that she has a mission to continue living and remembering her fellow Tutsis whose memories the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide tried to erase. Cockroaches is a memoir that is a great combination of memories pertaining to family, school, survival, and it offers historical insight into the Hutu-Tutsi conflicts of Rwanda.

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