MORTALS (2003) 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… 2003-05-27 Fiction
Book Review

MORTALS (2003)

EW's GRADE
B-

Details Release Date: May 27, 2003; Writer: Norman Rush; Genre: Fiction

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.

Originally posted Jun 06, 2003 Published in issue #713 Jun 06, 2003 Order article reprints