Detail from the cover of This is Not Who We Are by Sophie Buchaillard - tree branches sihouetted against a misty purple sky

This Is Not Who We Are: Sophie Buchaillard in conversation with Eric Ngalle Charles

Cardiff BookTalk is delighted to invite you to our next in-person author event, This Is Not Who We Are: Sophie Buchaillard in conversation with Eric Ngalle Charles. We are meeting at Grange Pavilion, Grange Gardens, Cardiff CF11 7LJ on April 26th, 2023, 6pm. This event is supported by Literature Wales’ Inspiring Communities Fund. Doors open at 6 for refreshments before we start. All are welcome at this free event.

In 1994, a young Rwandan woman and her brothers are caught up in the violent chaos that follows the assassination of the president. Meanwhile, in the present day, Iris – a journalist with a young family – searches obsessively for traces of Victoria, the pen-friend who disappeared during the Rwandan genocide thirty years before. As their lives interweave, both women have ghosts and secrets to confront, and must decide how to take responsibility for the past.

This is Not Who We Are blends elements of fiction and autobiography to explore vastly different perspectives on the tragedy of Rwanda and the experience of migration. The book is deeply compassionate and clear-sighted, and asks uncomfortable questions about European culpability for the violence while never losing sight of the human complexities of its characters.

‘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

‘This is a powerfully empathetic and sensitive book, which reserves its real rage for the ideological fanatics who deliberately mutate anger at oppression into a specious salvationist enterprise, hate-fuelled, directed at other victims of that same oppression.’ – Niall Griffiths

Born in Paris, Sophie Buchaillard moved to Wales in 2001 and now lives in Penarth. She writes travel literature inspired by her nomadic family, as well as fiction and short stories that reflect on the anxieties of our age. She is currently working on her PhD at Cardiff University where she tutors Creative Writing. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Wales Arts Review, Byline Times, Writers & Artists, and is also a contributor to the travel writing collection An Open Door: New Travel Writing for a Precarious Century (Parthian, 2022). Her debut novel,This is Not Who We Are, is published by Seren Books and was part of the Wales Arts Review top ten novels of 2022.

The author will be in conversation with Eric Ngalle Charles, a poet, playwright and human rights activist. His memoir, I, Eric Ngalle: One Man’s Journey Crossing Continents from Africa to Europe (2019), recounts the journey from his birthplace in Cameroon to Russia and then Europe, where he sought refuge before finally settling in Cardiff. He has edited several volumes of poetry and his latest collection, Homeland (2022), is published by Seren. He sits on the boards of Literature Wales and Aberystwyth Arts Centre Advisory Group and is working on a PhD at King’s College in London.

This will be followed by an opportunity for audience questions and discussion. To make the most of the session, you may like to read This Is Not Who We Are. Further recommended texts include I, Eric Ngalle and Homeland by Eric Ngalle Charles.

The event is free and open to all. For those who cannot attend in-person, this event will be available online as a recording (details to be confirmed).

Book your free place via Eventbrite here:


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