Bearing witness to trauma: Narrative structure and perspective in Murambi, the book of bones

Samuel K. (2010)


This paper examines the representation of the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath in Boubacar Boris Diop's Murambi, the book of bones (2006). It aims in particular to explore the different ways in which the narrative devices of structure and perspective are used to convey trauma to the reader, thus enabling them to bear witness to it. This paper argues that these narrative devices are used to provide partial insight into the trauma of the genocide and/or to produce empathy or distance between readers and the victims, perpetrators and survivors of the genocide. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which the novel advances the human dimension of the genocide. This will shift both victims and perpetrators out of the domain of statistics and evoke emotional engagement from readers. The paper argues for the importance of narrative in bearing witness to trauma, particularly due to its unique ability to forge an emotional connection between reader and character. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

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