“I’d like to see her work in the travel pages,” Nicholas Shakespeare said to me recently of Lindsey Hilsum, international editor of Channel 4 News. Shakespeare, former literary editor of The Daily Telegraph and now chief literary critic of the Telegraph group, had been hugely impressed by her account of the Libyan revolution. In the latest edition of Granta magazine, published in Britain last week (and out in the United States on Tuesday), Hilsum reports on her return to Rwanda, where, nearly 20 years ago, she was living in Kigali when the massacres began. She finds shiny evidence of progress in the capital, but concludes that, “in the hills of rural Rwanda, the unrepentant and the unforgiven are living alongside the unhealed”.
I found myself haunted by that phrase long after I finished her piece. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, and have been watching it closely since, wondering whether it really has renounced tribalism for the glossy new out-of-town Tesco. Others will find Hilsum’s piece haunting for different reasons. There is a short excerpt on the Granta website. The article as a whole is the most powerful piece of reporting I’ve read for years, and in itself worth the £12.99 you’ll pay for Granta.
Is it travel writing? It is in the view of Deskbound Traveller.