Synopses & Reviews
Whether they are Americans, Brits, or a stubborn and suicidally moral Dutchman, Norman Rush's whites are not sure why they are in Botswana. Their uncertainty makes them do odd things. Driven half-mad by the barking of his neighbor's dogs, Carl dips timidly into native witchcraft only to jump back out at the worst possible moment. Ione briskly pursues a career as a "seducer" ("A seducer was merely someone who was seductive and who might or might not be awarded a victory. But a seducer was a professional"), while her dentist husband fends off the generous advances of an African cook. Funny, sad, and deeply knowing, polished throughout to a diamond glitter, Whites is a magnificent collection of stories.
"The most extraordinary aspect of these stories set in Botswana is the absolute authenticity of each of the narrative voices....In their variety, their pointblank aim, their refusal to editorialize, these six stories raise the curtain on the dark, restless drama of present-day Africa." Publishers Weekly
"Whites is an admirable beginning; because the longer stories work best, I hope he will deliver us a novel soon. The world could use a few more books from human beings like Mr. Rush." Leslie Marmon Silko, The New York Times Book Review
"Remarkable...each story is finished, each has a palpable rise and fall, a current of despair and humor and weariness and surprise....These are stories of bottled-up witness, stories that need telling." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Rush handles [his themes] with great wit and sympathy....There is something honest in his refusal to cross the frontier and take on Africa and Africans....A more 'political' collection might have appeared ambitious and sounded only hollow." The Nation
"Powerful and original...always convincingly authentic. The ironies keep cutting in new directions." The New York Times
In this magnificent collection of stories, Rush produces indelible portraits of Euro-American ex-patriates at loose ends in the black African republic of Botswana. The author's characters are unforgettable, while their predicaments are funny, improbably logical, and almost affecting as Africa itself.
About the Author
Norman Rush was raised in Oakland, California, and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1956. He has been an antiquarian book dealer, a college instructor, and, with his wife Elsa, he lived and worked in Africa from 1978 to 1983. They now reside in Rockland County, New York. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Best American Short Stories. Whites was published in 1986, and his first novel, Mating, the recipient of the National Book Award, was published in 1991. His most recent novel is Mortals.