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Article

MORTALS

Posted on

Mortals

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Norman Rush
genre:
Fiction

We gave it a B-

It’s been a long time since Rush’s last novel, 1991’s National Book Award winner Mating — too long, judging from the baggy diffuseness of his 700-plus-page follow-up, a portrait of a CIA agent in 1990s Botswana who allows mistrust to seep into his relationship with his wife. As a portraitist of marriage and of Africa, Rush is acutely observant (though it’s not clear if the fact that his expat characters never sound syntactically American is a choice or a failure). Unfortunately, he’s also stuffed in his narrator’s observations — apparently all of them — on politics, poetry, homosexuality, religion, and, at peculiar length (no pun intended), his own penis. Comparisons to Graham Greene will no doubt be forthcoming, but Greene never bedecked such a thin, arch narrative with such massive ornamentation.

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