Journalist Anjan Sundaram reads from and discusses his work with SAJA's Mythili Rao at BookCourt.
Bad News is the story of Sundaram's time running a journalist's training program out of Kigali, the capital city of one of Africa's most densely populated countries, Rwanda. President Kagame’s regime, which seized power after the genocide that ravaged its population in 1994, is often held up as a beacon for progress and modernity in Central Africa and is the recipient of billions of dollars each year in aid from Western governments and international organizations. Lurking underneath this shining vision of a modern, orderly state, however, is the powerful climate of fear springing from the government's brutal treatment of any voice of dissent. "You can't look and write," a policeman ominously tells Sundaram, as he takes notes at a political rally. In Rwanda, the testimony of the individual—the evidence of one's own experience—is crushed by the pensée unique: the single way of thinking and speaking, proscribed by those in power.
A vivid portrait of a country at an extraordinary and dangerous place in its history, Bad News is a brilliant and urgent parable on freedom of expression, and what happens when that power is seized.
Anjan Sundaram is the author of Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo and an award-winning journalist who has reported from Central Africa and the Middle East for The New York Times and the Associated Press. His writing has also appeared in Granta, Foreign Policy, Politico, Fortune, The Washington Post, The Telegraph, International New York Times and The Guardian. His war correspondence from Central Africa was shortlisted for the Prix Bayeux and the Kurt Schork prizes in 2015. His reporting on Pygmy tribes living in Congo’s rainforest was awarded a Reuters journalism prize in 2006.
Mythili Rao is currently an editorial fellow with On the Media at WNYC. At WNYC, she has been a producer for the national news program The Takeaway, a contributing reporter for the local newsroom, and the host of literary events at The Greene Space and other venues. She previously worked in CNN's New York bureau on its breaking news team. Her book reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Newsweek,Words Without Borders, and other publications.