Women's Worlds Reading Group

2017 changed the conversation for women. From the Women's March to #MeToo and everything beyond and in between, popular culture is coming to a reckoning and women's voices are raised louder and stronger than ever. In an era of growing political nationalism, we want to turn our ears to the words and voices of women beyond our land and language. From the Caribbean to South Africa to Northern Europe, here are women's voices that reverberate in and beyond our urgent moment.

All texts are from Archipelago Books, a not-for-profit literary press devoted to promoting cross-cultural exchange through innovative classics and contemporary international literature in translation.

All meetings will be on the third Saturday of the month at 3 pm. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

October's selection is Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga of Rwanda.

Imagine being born into a world where everything about you—the shape of your nose, the look of your hair, the place of your birth—designates you as an undesirable, an inferior, a menace, no better than a cockroach, something to be driven away and ultimately exterminated. Imagine being thousands of miles away while your family and friends are brutally and methodically slaughtered. Imagine being entrusted by your parents with the mission of leaving everything you know and finding some way to survive, in the name of your family and your people. 

Scholastique Mukasonga's Cockroaches is the story of growing up a Tutsi in Hutu-dominated Rwanda—the story of a happy child, a loving family, all wiped out in the genocide of 1994. A vivid, bitterwsweet depiction of family life and bond in a time of immense hardship, it is also a story of incredible endurance, and the duty to remember that loss and those lost while somehow carrying on. Sweet, funny, wrenching, and deeply moving, Cockroaches is a window onto an unforgettable world of love, grief, and horror.

About the Author


Born in Rwanda in 1956, Scholastique Mukasonga experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of the ethnic conflicts that shook her country. In 1960, her family was displaced to the polluted and under-developed Bugesera district of Rwanda. Mukasonga was later forced to leave the school of social work in Butare and flee to Burundi. She settled in France in 1992, only two years before the brutal genocide of the Tutsi swept through Rwanda. In the aftermath, Mukasonga learned that 37 of her family members had been massacred. Twelve years later, Gallimard published her autobiographical account Inyenzi ou les Cafards, which marked Mukasonga's entry into literature. This was followed by the publication of La femme aux pieds nus in 2008 and L'Iguifou in 2010, both widely praised. Her first novel, Notre-Dame du Nil (Our Lady of the Nile), won the Ahamadou Kourouma prize and the Renaudot prize in 2012, as well as the Océans France Ô prize in 2013 and the French Voices Award in 2014, and was shortlisted for the 2016 International Dublin Literary award.

Event date: 
Saturday, October 20, 2018 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Event address: 
Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Cockroaches Cover Image
By Scholastique Mukasonga, Jordan Stump (Translated by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780914671534
Availability: Available to Ship
Published: Archipelago - October 25th, 2016