Author of 'Running the Rift' participates in local activities

Author Naomi Benaron visited Lake Oswego this week and participated in several of the activities planned in celebration of her book, “Running the Rift,” this year’s selection for the Lake Oswego Reads program. by: VERN UYETAKE - Naomi Benaron, author of 'Running the Rift,' the selection for this years Lake Oswego Reads program, addresses students in an English class at Lake Oswego High while visiting Lake Oswego. She was scheduled to address a large crowd Wednesday evening at an authors speaking engagement.

She was scheduled to address a full auditorium of readers Wednesday evening at Lake Oswego High School.

“I am delighted to be here,” she said earlier Wednesday. She was impressed with the number and wide variety of activities planned around “Running the Rift,” and was disappointed to be unable to be here for the fun run on Saturday.

Benaron explained that the inspiration for “Running the Rift” came from visiting Rwanda as a tourist in 2002.

“Even before we landed I was taken by the country,” she said. “It was a green jewel of a country, verdant and beautiful, misty and gleaming. And the people were so friendly. ... The whole country got into my heart.”

She began to learn about the Rwandan genocide and related learning her cab driver’s story of genocide, told from his Tutsi perspective. While hiking around a lake in the region, Benaron found bones.

“At first I thought it was an animal bone,” she said. “But it was a human sacrum. Then I found teeth and pieces of skull. I picked them up and held them. I thought ‘these teeth belonged to a mouth that told stories — I can tell this story.’”

And thus the novel was born.

Benaron said her writing focuses on surviving trauma, supporting social justice and promoting social responsibility. She hoped to share two messages with readers while in Lake Oswego.

“The first is always feel there is something you can do to bring about social justice. Even by talking to others you are effecting change,” she said. “And the second is to don’t give up.”

During her visit to Lake Oswego, Benaron attended several events, spoke to students in an English class at Lake Oswego High School and presented the author’s talk Wednesday evening.

Several Lake Oswego Reads events will happen this week. The calendar is available online at

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