Author Naomi Benaron will visit Lake Oswego in February to speak about the book

The Lake Oswego Public Library has selected “Running the Rift” by Naomi Benaron as the book for the 2013 citywide national award-winning program, Lake Oswego Reads. by: SUBMITTED - 'Running the Rift,' a novel about a gifted Rwandan boy, has been selected for the 2013 Lake Oswego Reads program.

This is the program’s seventh year and Friends of the Lake Oswego Public Library, Step It Up Studios and the Lake Oswego Review will sponsor it.

“Running the Rift” tells the story of Jean Patrick Nkuba, a gifted Rwandan boy, from the day he knows that running will be his life to the moment he must run to save his life, a ten-year span in which his country is undone by the Hutu-Tutsi tensions. This book is not only about Rwanda; it is about hope, family and forgiveness.

It won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for fiction, a prize awarded for a first novel that has discussed social engagement within its literature.

Benaron was born and raised in Boston and currently lives in Tucson, Ariz. She is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Antioch University, Los Angeles; and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego. She is also the author “Love Letters from a Fat Man,” a collection of short stories that won the 2006 G.S. Sharat Chandra prize for fiction. Both works tell stories concerning Rwandan genocide.

Her writing extends to poetry that has been published in many acclaimed journals and anthologies. She is also a marathon runner.

“I am thrilled and deeply honored to have ‘Running the Rift’ selected for the 2013 Lake Oswego Reads program,” she said. “I wrote this novel to address the Rwandan genocide in a way that went beyond the news clips that so often flicker unnoticed across our TV screens. For me, this event is like a dream come true; it is a chance for the entire community to share in this story that has become such an important part of my life.”

The Lake Oswego Public Library will bring Benaron to Lake Oswego to speak about her book in February.

“After ‘Mink River’ we find ourselves sprinting across the planet from one world to another,” said Bill Baars, director of the Lake Oswego Public Library. “Not unlike the would-be Olympian in first-time novelist Naomi Benaron’s Bellwether Award-winning novel ‘Running the Rift.’

“Set against a backdrop of the shocking genocide in 1994 Rwanda, Benaron has written a work of great humanity in the face of unconscionable atrocity; this is a story of character, hope and perseverance. Lake Oswego Reads Steering Committee members are looking forward to presenting an engaging array of programs, discussions and community conversations around this, our seventh book.”

The official kickoff of Lake Oswego Reads 2013 will be Jan. 7 at the library, with complimentary books distributed to Lake Oswego Public Library card holders, thanks to the Friends of the Lake Oswego Public Library. The steering committee is presently developing a schedule of programs for February so Lake Oswego residents can not only discuss the book but also experience it through speakers, music, food, art and more.

The steering committee, consisting of librarians, community leaders, high school English teachers and high school students, selected the book. They read more books this year than any other year. Visit for a list of the books the committee read when deciding on a selection for the 2013 event.

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