New Novel is Based on Real Life Experiences of Atrocity Survivor

Death squads roam the cities and kill with impunity, turning once vibrant places into fields of death; refugees flee the waves of atrocities, forced to abandon home and hope, subsisting on memories and nightmares in dilapidated refugee camps. These were the experiences of Lucien Nzeyimana, author of “Burning the Last Straw.” He uses his experience of living through the unsung horrors that befell Burundi for decades as the basis for his new novel, “End of Upsetting Games.”

Shocked that some people in his new home in Canada did not hear of the plight of the Burundian people, and after touching people with his recollections, Nzeyimana was compelled to recount his painful past. He revisits memories of his family’s murder, his escapes from certain death, the meager existence in refugee camps and the harrowing realization that if the army did not kill him, then certainly hunger, disease and depression would. With each and every retelling, Nzeyimana returns to these traumatic times, the horrors which haunted him every single day, and the guilt of not being able to share his experience with others – a Sisyphean act of storytelling. By writing the “End of Upsetting Games,” Nzeyimana hopes to finally stop repeating the same story over and over again. His testimony is a metaphorical exorcism of the agonies of yesteryear.

His novel is set in Burundi and follows Jacob Barak, who witnesses immense cruelties against his people and whose attempts at creating a safe and peaceful life are stymied by tremendous obstacles. He becomes an activist for justice, but on the cusp of victory, and after his party wins a democratic election, their hopes and dreams are ended by a brutal military coup. Elected leaders are murdered, the rule of the people is replaced with the rule of the gun, it becomes a bath of blood and Jacob tries to flee to Tanzania. An odyssey of danger and despair begins, and over time Jacob becomes an adult and a father determined to keep his children safe. He moves to Canada, in search of a new life, but even in this, he is obstructed. There are thorns adorning the rose he sought. He meets Nikita Chissocco, a childhood friend and a dream come true, epitomizing the joy he had lost, a friend, a lover, and a mother to his future…

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