At once a political adventure, a social comedy and a passionate love story, "Mortals" chronicles the misadventures of three expat Americans in 1990s Botswana: a contract CIA agent, operating undercover as a teacher of Milton; his beloved but disaffected wife; and an iconoclastic black holistic physician on a personal mission to 'lift the yoke of ...
At once a political adventure, a social comedy and a passionate love story, "Mortals" chronicles the misadventures of three expat Americans in 1990s Botswana: a contract CIA agent, operating undercover as a teacher of Milton; his beloved but disaffected wife; and an iconoclastic black holistic physician on a personal mission to 'lift the yoke of Christian belief from Africa'. The machinations of these three entangle them with a local populist leader. And when a violent but pathetic insurrection erupts - stoked in part by the erotic and political intrigues of the American trio - the outcome is both explosive and explosively funny. "Mortals" constitutes the final element in Norman Rush's trilogy on the Western presence in contemporary southern Africa, and examines with wit and insight the dilemmas of power, religion, rebellion, and contending versions of liberation and love, through lives lived ardently in an unforgiving land. "Rush is masterful at unfolding the tender, laconic truths of love, lust and guilt". ("Guardian"). "Serious and well written - I enjoyed every word". ("Observer"). "I could not stop reading it - A remarkable book". ("Daily Telegraph"). "In the venerable tradition of Graham Greene and John le Carr-, Norman Rush has woven international espionage with its equally sordid twin, romantic betrayal - Mr Rush has an uncanny understanding of Africa". ("The Economist").
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-04-21 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. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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