Author Naomi Benaron's debut novel "Running the Rift" follows academic and sprinter Jean Patrick Nkuba from the fearlessness of his youth to his prime as a contender to represent Rwanda on the international stage, for himself, for his family and for all Tutsi. As tensions mount between the politically manipulated Hutu and Tutsi, we share Jean Patrick's impossible hope that war will spare his family, his best friend, his Olympic dream and the woman he loves. Through Jean Patrick, we see the faith of a hounded people, the tenacity in living lives full of song and laughter in the imminent tensions rising among the peace-loving peoples of Rwanda. In "Running the Rift," readers will feel the vitality of Rwandans, their fear, the sweat on their brows, the love they shared, and the joy and rough redemption of those who still survive.
Benaron, who will visit the Bookworm of Edwards on Tuesday, holds a master of fine arts degree from Antioch University and a master of science degree in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is also an Ironman triathlete. She teaches at UCLA Extension Writers' Program and mentors for the Afghan Women's Writing Project. She works as an advocate for African refugees in the community and has worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda. She is the winner of the 2011 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver.