The greatly anticipated new novel by Norman Rush whose first novel,
Mating, won the National Book Award and was everywhere acclaimed is
his richest work yet. It is at once a political adventure, a social
comedy, and a passionate triangle. It is set in the 1990s in
Botswana the African country Rush has indelibly made his own
Mortals chronicles the misadventures of three ex-pat Americans: Ray
Finch, a contract CIA agent, operating undercover as an English
instructor in a private school, who is setting out on perhaps his
most difficult assignment; his beautiful but slightly foolish and
disaffected wife, Iris, with whom he is obsessively in love; and
Davis Morel, an iconoclastic black holistic physician, who is on a
personal mission to lift the yoke of Christian belief from Africa.
The passions of these three entangle them with a local populist
leader, Samuel Kerekang, whose purposes are grotesquely
misconstrued by the CIA, fixated as the agency is on the
astonishing collapse of world socialism and the simultaneous,
paradoxical triumph of radical black nationalism in South Africa,
Botswana s neighbor. And when a small but violent insurrection
erupts in the wild northern part of the country, inspired by
Kerekang but stoked by the erotic and political intrigues of the
American trio the outcome is explosive and often explosively funny.
Along the way, there are many pleasures. Letters from Ray s
brilliantly hostile brother and Iris s woebegone sister provide a
running commentary on contemporary life in America. Africa and
Africans are powerfully evoked, and the expatriate scene is
Through lives lived ardently in an unforgiving land, Mortals
examines with wit and insight the dilemmas of power, religion,
rebellion, and contending versions of liberation and love. It is a
study of a marriage over time, and a man s struggle to find his way
when his private and public worlds are shifting. It is Norman Rush
s most commanding work.
"From the Hardcover edition.""
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