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Mortals : a novel

by Rush, Norman.

Format: Print Book 2003
Availability: Available at 3 Libraries 3 of 3 copies
Available (3)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library First Floor - Fiction Stacks FICTION Rush, No
Location  CLP - Main Library
 
Collection  First Floor - Fiction Stacks
 
Call Number  FICTION Rush, No
 
 
Monroeville Public Library Fiction Rush
Location  Monroeville Public Library
 
Collection  Fiction
 
Call Number  Rush
 
 
Northland Public Library Fiction FIC RUS
Location  Northland Public Library
 
Collection  Fiction
 
Call Number  FIC RUS
 
 
Summary
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 fictional territory. Mortalschronicles 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 cheerfully skewered. Through lives lived ardently in an unforgiving land,Mortalsexamines 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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Like Rush's National Book Award winner, Mating (1991), this huge, stirring novel is about middle-class Americans in Botswana, Africa. And Rush tells it with the same enthralling mix of intimacy and politics, sex and war, commitment and cynicism, literature and farce. But now the protagonist is a minor secret CIA agent in the early 1990s with the region in turmoil as Mandela struggles to come to power across the border. Ray's not quite sure how he landed in his spy job, but he quite likes it. He's sure he's never been involved with anything really bad. What matters to him is his beautiful wife, Iris. After 17 years, he's still totally obsessed with every part of her body, every glance, every funny word. But is she having an affair with Morel, the black American doctor who believes the way to fix broken Africa is to get rid of Christianity? When Ray is sent on a bungled mission and lands up with the brutal apartheid paramilitay, Morel comes to the rescue, and the two bond in a prison cell "like characters in Beckett's plays," arguing about love and Milton while pandemonium rages. Some readers may skip the religion debates, others may gloss over the military adventure. But all will find the radiant love story both erotic and hilarious. Most moving is the gritty idealism: despite the antic postmodern irony, commitment, Rush argues, isn't irrelevant. OK, the truth won't set you free and all that, but the individual is responsible, and small things can make a huge difference. --Hazel Rochman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "From the beginning, the tone of Rush's eagerly awaited new novel is edgy and febrile-a harbinger of the unsettling events that will ensue. Ray Finch, a Milton scholar who teaches in a small secondary school in Botswana during the 1990s, is having an identity crisis. After many years as an undercover CIA agent, he has lost his emotional equilibrium, and he's strung out with suspicion and fear. Is his adored wife, Iris, on the verge of an affair? What's with Iris's warm relationship with the brother Ray despises-gay, witty Rex? How long can Ray suppress his growing disillusionment with the agency's arrogant and ruthless methods? When Ray's chief sends him into the interior to hunt down the idealistic leader of a fledgling rebellion, Ray's fears transmogrify into living nightmares, and the novel, already a textured, erotic portrait of a disintegrating marriage and a society in flux, becomes a political thriller infused with violence. Ray is acutely aware of the cultural dissonance introduced by Western society. According to Iris's lover, a black American doctor, Christianity has wrecked Africa; the AIDS epidemic threatens another kind of destruction; and idealistic attempts at reform are doomed to failure (the Denoons, from Rush's prize-winning novel, Mating, show up here, their crusading ardor much diminished). The decadent excesses of rich Americans compared with the disciplined simplicity of life in Botswana add an element of satire. Rush's attempts to meld political reality with domestic tragicomedy occasionally make the narrative unwieldy, and suspense is sometimes fractured during the action sequences in the desert as Ray's inner turmoil spins into tortured mental riffs. Still, the richness of Rush's vision, and its stringent moral clarity, sweep the reader into his brilliantly observed world. (June 1) Forecast: At almost 600 densely packed pages, this book is not an easy read, but it will be widely discussed. At a time when U.S. foreign policy is facing critical scrutiny, Rush's experience in Botswana, where he lived for five years, grants authenticity to his picture of our clandestine presence in West Africa. 75,000 first printing. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Americans -- Botswana -- Fiction.
African American physicians -- Fiction.
Government investigators -- Fiction.
Revolutionaries -- Fiction.
Botswana -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :Alfred A. Knopf,2003
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description viii, 715 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN 0679406220
Other Classic View