CI 250:
Truth - Reconciliation - Story

Truth and reconciliation processes - be they formal inquiries like those in South Africa and Canada, or more informal social evolutions - rely on story to express and make sense of the horrors of large-scale human rights abuses. In this course, we will examine and discuss the role of fictional narratives in contributing to the truth and reconciliation discourses of five countries.

Part of the new Cultural Identities minor at the University of Waterloo, CI 250 will be offered for the first time in Winter Term 2019. There are no prerequisites; all are welcome. Watch the trailer for an introduction by the course instructor, or scroll further down to find out more the novels that will be discussed in the course.

Questions? Comments? Direct them to Prof. James Skidmore (


South Africa

Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer

Nobel-prize winner Nadine Gordimer’s novel about a white anti-apartheid activist, and the price the family pays for standing up to injustice.



My Fathers’ Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain by Patricio Pron

Argentina’s “dirty war” saw thousands of the country’s citizens “disappeared” by their own government. This novel, which bends the rules of genre, also bends our understanding of memory and forgetting.



The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Holocaust shattered the 20th century, and Germany has been coming to terms with its responsibility ever since. Schlink’s novel explores the generational responses to the worst case of genocide in human history.



Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway

Written years before Canada’s own truth and reconciliation commission, Kiss of the Fur Queen brought to national attention the harm and heartbreak caused by the residential school system.


The United States

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Recent winner of the Man Booker Prize, Beatty’s satire illustrates in humorous fashion that the injustice of slavery in American history is still very much a contemporary issue.