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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  381 Ratings  ·  48 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 (first published January 1st 1986)
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Josh Friedlander
Aug 27, 2014 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
Nov 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing

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 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
Oct 29, 2011 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
Dec 30, 2013 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
Sep 10, 2009 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.
Karen Chung
May 13, 2015 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.
Jul 18, 2007 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 18, 2018 rated it liked it
My favorite stories:

Bruns p. 16: A Dutch Vegan conscientious objector comes to volunteer at a little village in Botswana where the boers have everything sewed up: the chief of police, the stores, etc. This unassuming Vegan stirred things up, in his pacifist way, for those dang boers. Lol

Near Pala p. 31: two white married couples are traveling on the roadless roads in Botswana to a hotel destination. One of the women, pregnant Nan, is sympathetic to the natives, their poverty, their oppression by
Armin Hennig
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-70sff
Erzählband ohne Schwachpunkt, auch wenn die erste und die letzte Erzählung sicher den Gipfel darstellen.
Michael Mulford
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Some caustic insights, and certainly ringing true in ironic and often humors ways, it still felt like the characters all fell into some one-dimensional stereotypes (again this is from trying to remember what I read two years ago).
Dec 01, 2008 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
Apr 17, 2016 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 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I always feel weird about liking Norman Rush because why should I care about white short-term expatriates in Botswana? But the characters seem to somehow always ring true, demonstrating how greed or idealism or whatever has brought them to Africa has been worn away into an acceptance of the way things are. I even enjoyed the way the narrator of Thieving rationalizes the acts he commits to survive against God's will in earnest broken English. But anyway, yes Mating is better but this is still a p ...more
Tim Weed
Oct 25, 2015 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
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 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
Sep 23, 2011 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
May 17, 2013 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
Kate Croft
Mar 05, 2013 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
Enver Hoxha
May 22, 2014 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
Feb 29, 2008 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.
Aug 21, 2007 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 19, 2015 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."
Feb 06, 2009 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.
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 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
Jan 14, 2011 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.
Dec 03, 2007 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.
Ben Schaffer
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
This collection is an antidote to that execrable White Masai I was enjoined to read last month. Love Norman Rush.
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Rush's vivid characters 1 1 Oct 25, 2015 03:42AM  
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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
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