This Is Not Who We Are
1994, Iris and Victoria are pen friends. Iris writes about her life with her family in Paris. Victoria is in a refugee camp in Goma having fled the genocide in Rwanda in which thousands are being killed. One day Victoria’s letters stop, and Iris is told she has been moved.
Twenty years later Iris, a new mother, is working as a journalist in London. As she prepares to return to work, her thoughts turn to Victoria and what might have happened to her. She pitches a story to her editor which sets her on a journey to find her pen friend. But as she follows the story, things emerge that make her question her own past. Was her father, a French government official, somehow involved in the genocide? Are her childhood memories more fiction than fact? Why is she looking for Victoria, really?
For Victoria, the last twenty years have been ones of migration, to Goma, then to Paris and finally to London. There she starts a new life with her youngest brother Paul, and leaves the past behind. Or so she thinks until she is suddenly confronted with the decision to reconnect with her genocide-supporting middle brother Benjamin.
How have the lives of these two women, who shared a moment in time, changed in the past twenty years? As the pressure of long-kept family secrets builds, will they ever find each other?
‘Sophie Buchaillard’s novel is a stark and terrifying reminder that only the most fragile screen separates the familiar from the abyss, the comforts of home from the most obscene and extreme violence. It is an elegant and sombre reflection on what it means to retain one’s humanity in the face of a brutal and dehumanising cataclysm.' – Richard Gwyn
Author Q&A with Sophie Buchaillard: