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3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  331 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
In this magnificent collection of stories, Rush produces indelible portraits of Euro-American ex-patriates at loose ends in the black African republic of Botswana. The author's characters are unforgettable, while their predicaments are funny, improbably logical, and almost affecting as Africa itself.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Vintage Books (first published January 1st 1986)
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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithThe Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall SmithTwenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn ScottSaturday Is for Funerals by Unity DowWhatever You Do, Don't Run by Peter Allison
Books Set in Botswana
24th out of 76 books — 17 voters
Gone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckThe Age of Innocence by Edith WhartonTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Pulitzer Prizes - Novel/Fiction
31st out of 160 books — 13 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 901)
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Josh Friedlander
Aug 27, 2014 Josh Friedlander rated it really liked it
I started subscribing to the Paris Review this year. I know, kind of silly, since almost all of their stuff is online. But I like the short stories, often, and I like feeling the thickness of the pages when I read it outside. One thing I've picked up from the issues I've read is that there seem to be a lot of writers who are seen as touchstones in American fiction, most of whom are completely unfamiliar to me - what I have begun to call the MFA canon. It includes names like James Salter, Marilyn ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
Jan 23, 2011 Jennifer Spiegel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books

Reviewing this book is really just an excuse for me to talk about South Africa. To be more specific, it’s an excuse for me talk about why I write so much about South Africa. First, the book. Then, me. That’s fair, right?

I liked it!

Okay, me.

No, really. Here’s the thing: the topics are kinda inseparable. What I liked about Norman Rush is why I write about South Africa.

Norman Rush, from my minute research (Wikipedia) is an American author who lived in Botswana from 1978 until 1983, which is just
Nov 05, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has worked or spent time in Africa will get these stories - will recognize the characters, black, white, African, British or American. There is nothing stereotypical in their presentations, because Rush has taken great care to properly flesh out each character with essential personal traits beyond their nationality or race.

Having worked all over Africa for the US State Dept.,I could vividly recall the people depicted in their roles from Ambassador, DCM, the stiff upper-lipped Brit and
Catherine Shattuck
Jan 02, 2012 Catherine Shattuck rated it really liked it
Rush is one of my favorite writers. I fell in love with him via Mating many years ago, and wanted to read everything he'd written. At that time, all there was were these short stories (Mortals came out years later - I liked, but did not love, that one). I saved the stories because I couldn't bear for there not to be one more thing by Rush that I could read, and finally dug into them about 15 years later. I am not a short story fan but his are wonderful: revealing, intimate portraits of people to ...more
Karen Chung
May 18, 2015 Karen Chung rated it really liked it
Informative - especially for anybody interested in what real everyday life is like in an African country like Botswana - and deeply humorous. Actually, in terms of the enjoyment it brought me, this book gets a full five stars.
Dec 31, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Norman Rush's first book, but the last of his that I read. I decidedly enjoy his novels more than his short stories; 'Whites' reads a bit like an exercise in character development. I kept trying to make the connection between the characters in each story, where mostly there is none. But with 'Whites', Rush successfully hones in on and exposes several paragons of the ugly underbelly of foreign development and the expat milieu. He doesn't so much condemn it as just lays it bare. Such detachment it ...more
Tim Weed
Oct 25, 2015 Tim Weed rated it really liked it
The stories in Whites are impressive in their variety. While they’re all set in Botswana, they’re told from the point of view of characters with radically different perspectives: a young American graduate student, a white South African woman traveling across the desert with her husband and another couple, a Mokgalagadi tribesman, a middle-aged seductress, an aid worker, a timid dentist. Norman Rush is a master ventriloquist: he’s great with voices, inflections, and patterns of speech and thought ...more
Apr 23, 2016 Dale rated it it was amazing
This is a re-read, but I remain every bit as impressed by Rush's storytelling as the first time I read it. No, that is not quite true. I am more impressed.

No doubt I am prejudiced towards a book about whites living in Africa; I lived in Cameroon for two years (these stories are set in Botswana). And no doubt my first read has left me predisposed to this favorable review. But there are so many reasons I give this book 5 stars.

In "Thieving" Rush immerses us in the stream of consciousness of young
Sep 30, 2009 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great short stories, most dealing with Botswana, from author's peace corp stay, though not about peace corps stuff, really. you can tell he used these stories to leap into his kick-ass novel "mating". frankly i like the short stories about as much as the novels, good 'real' characters, dealing with 'real' situations, in erudite, not-un-surprising ways.
Jul 18, 2007 Will rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The stories in this book are uneven, but Instruments of Seduction and Alone in Africa are two of the best short stories I've ever read. Worth checking this out just for those two.
Jan 11, 2015 Callie rated it liked it
Finally I got around to this. Here's the conundrum: I love Norman Rush, but I hate short stories. I really hate them. I don't know why. So which one wins out, bc Norman Rush has only written three novels and i've already read all three. He's old. He many not publish anything else. So which would win, my loathing of short stories or my love for Rush?

Well, obviously, my love. But. Even Norman Rush can't save the form. I mean, I'm giving the book three stars, b/c I did like it. But only in spite of
Mark Valentine
Mar 12, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it
I found the majority of these short stories extremely engaging and entertaining.

My favorites: First, "Bruns," had a twist at the ending that I thought matched some of Tolstoy's or Solzhenitzen's short stories (I'm thinking of "The Kreutzer Sonata," and "Matryona's House," respectively).

Second, a brilliant, brief tale, "Near Pala," that has a biting ending; it is laced with vituperative rage. My third favorite was the final story, "Alone in Africa." In it, a white medical doctor, alone after hi
Dec 19, 2015 Ari rated it it was amazing
Wow. I think I found a new writer I'll have to follow. Well, new to me anyways.

Cryptic, cerebral, and still emotional stories of the ex-pat community in Botswana, where things are often not what they seem. A quick read, and highly recommended. Pairs well with the Claire Denis movie "White Material."
Karol K
Apr 20, 2016 Karol K rated it really liked it
Here is the modern Botswana experience from a white colonialist perspective. I enjoyed. Quite funny in places. The last short story was perhaps a man's fantasy come true, but I think not.
Apr 21, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Collection of short stories set in Botswana. Genre of Alexandra Fuller, Peter Goodwin. Some work better than others.
Sep 23, 2011 Brad rated it really liked it
Hard to choose a rating for this, but the fact that this is a successful short story collection (not a term I'll really attempt to define) makes me more likely to overrated it than under.

Probably the one thing that bothers me the most about the book is Norman Rush's face on the dust jacket. Sure, that's superficial. I realize that. But it's a very punch-able face. It's the face of a man who wants to be Ernest Hemingway. And then, on occasion, he writes like a man who wants to be Ernest Hemingway
Enver Hoxha
Jan 17, 2016 Enver Hoxha rated it really liked it
This is a well written collection of short stories that focus on expatriate life and behavior in Botswana. The tone of the stories vary, with the first feeling like whimsical Twain and the last a bit Sartre. I enjoyed the language and setting, but especially the socio-economic discussions and relationships that the stories either challenge directly or dance around. I live in the South, and the conversations that take place in the second story, Near Pala, are nearly verbatim of the social philoso ...more
Kate Croft
Mar 05, 2013 Kate Croft rated it it was amazing
Norman Rush's first publication, "Whites" was beautiful promise of his amazing work to come. A perfect prelude to his masterpiece "Mating," the short stories of "Whites" introduce us to the social landscape of expatriates in Botswana, their burgeoning eccentricities, and the destabilizing nature of country whose legacy is turmoil. Rush hints at a few characters we will meet later in his literature as he lures us through exotic tales of corruption, sex, theft, and witchcraft. A fast, invigorating ...more
Aug 30, 2015 Richard rated it liked it
Just never got into it. Reasonably well written, just not compelling.
Jun 15, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
Selected this book after hearing Norman Rush read Bruns at this year's Woodstock Writer's Festival. Past reviewers have said they do not like the abrupt endings to most of the stories, but I liked that visceral technique. This book gave me a sense of place and time that seemed very authentic even though I've never been to Africa. I had some trouble getting through Official Americans, but at the end I understood that I had been on the same meandering journey as the main character. Looking forward ...more
Ben Schaffer
Nov 30, 2014 Ben Schaffer rated it liked it
Feb 29, 2008 Molly rated it liked it
After producing this slender collection of stories, Rush went on to craft two hefty works: 'Mating' and 'Mortals.' I love Mating and haven't read Mortals yet. It's interesting to trace his fictional path from these tales to his first novel. Like Mating, all these stories are set in Botswana. Several are exceptional; the rest are good. He's an ambitious writer. And I hear he's now working on something about American politics.
Feb 07, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it
I was told to read this by someone currently living in the Congo. She said it best speaks to her experiences as a white woman in Africa. I have to say that I was happy to have such a rousing recommendation because I wasn't immediately sucked into this book, but with careful reading, it makes me so much more curious about Africa and expats.
Aug 21, 2007 Koharjones rated it liked it
Recommends it for: international workers
Not as comprehensive as Mating, but still a devastating critique of ex-pats in Botswana. A series of short stories, with one devastating image of a jeep of whites driving through the desert past waterstarved maoris, ensuring their death. Did the sympathetic lady get pushed out of the Jeep? I don't remember.
Dec 03, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it
i reread this earlier this year, in the bush, where i'd left it with a friend 5 years ago. at the time, i wasn't convinced that white expats in botswana were really like this. now that i've lived there (and tried to avoid most of them), i appreciate rush a little more.
Bill Carmean
Jan 05, 2014 Bill Carmean marked it as to-read
Recommended by Mike Gill -- a book about whites in Africa
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is a compilation of stories about characters in Botswana, set in the mid-late 20th century. It is excellent, using diverse viewpoints and tales to paint a picture of a place in a particular time. Recommended.
Chris Marquette
Jul 13, 2011 Chris Marquette rated it really liked it
I would say that five of the six stories in this collection I thought were very good. But the five that I liked were excellent, and I feel like I could return to any of them and enjoy them just as much.
Sep 21, 2012 Brendan rated it it was amazing
There isn't a page in all of Norman Rush's published fiction that doesn't contain some kind of delight or surprise or unusual information. I want to go to Botswana now.
Apr 09, 2009 claire rated it liked it
these really felt like the prototypes for the novels--very good but i loved the books so much, the short stories just don't do it for me.
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Rush's vivid characters 1 1 Oct 25, 2015 03:42AM  
  • The Collected Stories
  • Rabbis and Wives
  • Leaving the Land
  • The Feud
  • The Manikin
  • Paradise
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • Persian Nights
  • Shakespeare's Kitchen
  • Servants of the Map
  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
  • Love in Infant Monkeys
  • Mr. Ives' Christmas
  • All Souls
  • John Henry Days
  • Mean Spirit
  • At Weddings and Wakes
  • What I Lived For
Norman Rush (born October 24, 1933 in Oakland, California) is an American novelist whose introspective novels and short stories are set in Botswana in the 1980s. He is the son of Roger and Leslie (Chesse) Rush. He was the recipient of the 1991 National Book Award and the 1992 Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize for his novel Mating.

Rush was born in San Francisco and graduated from S
More about Norman Rush...

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