Set somewhere in Africa, Tarmac des hirondelles is the fictional memoir of a child soldier.
Through the eyes of Muna Nussadi, an 11-year-old albino, we follow the life of a young soldier robbed of his childhood. After an explosion at his school, he is forced to join a group of combatants who call themselves the Tarmac of Swallows. Once in the group, he must grow up fast in an environment of hatred and violence, where to kill and not to be killed is all that matters.
Under the orders of the fearsome self-named Sergeant, he and his comrades are made to take drugs to overcome their fear and reluctance to rape and murder members of enemy tribes. Ironically and tragically, for the first time he finds acceptance by his peers despite his strange looks. He soon succumbs to the lure of power.
After a particularly violent raid, he finds all his brothers-in-arms assassinated and narrowly escapes death himself by fleeing into a forest. He is then left to wander alone, haunted by his crimes, memories of his parents, and his friend Kenny, killed in combat. Although he will never recapture his youth, Muna will eventually learn to love and be human again.
With powerful, metaphor-filled prose, Yémy conveys the violence and emotion of a young boy forced to fight, the way so many child soldiers have been.