Rules of the Wild

Francesca Marciano, Author Pantheon Books $3.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-375-40358-3
The voice of Italian-born narrator Esme, which seduces the reader into the world of this intelligent first novel, is sad, tense, darkly foreboding, secretly desperate. From the beginning, we know that this will be a story of missed opportunities, failed love affairs, unfulfilled longings. Juxtaposed with the tale of a woman trying to find herself is a trenchant and striking picture of contemporary Africa. Esme flees Italy for Kenya after the death of her charismatic father, a poet, and is grateful to find security in an affair with idealistic safari operator Adam. Africa initially seems a paradise to Esme. She is welcomed into the inbred white community of Nairobi, where alcohol and drugs are routine pleasures, everyone has slept with everyone else and the colonial attitude toward blacks has not changed. When she meets a burning social conscience, restless Esme recognizes a kindred spirit, and their passionate affair threatens to destroy the only haven she has known. Hunter has covered the carnage in Somalia and Rwanda, and his insistence that Esme acknowledge the ""real"" Africa--the poverty in which most Africans live, the despoliation of the environment--unsettles her already fragile emotional balance. In the end, she will be caught between two worlds, two lovers and two visions of the future. Marciano's passion for the spectacular landscape of Africa is almost palpable. Her character analysis is often profound as she delicately conveys the moral complexities of social and personal issues. Her Africa is a paradox in every sense: beautiful and tragic, luxuriant and rotting, paradise and hell, Esme's nemesis and her salvation. This resonantly ironic, beautifully observed novel announces an impressive new talent. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour; rights sold in Germany, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, France, Holland and Brazil; simultaneous Random House audio. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 209 pages - 978-0-307-55949-4
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-375-70343-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-375-40439-9
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4070-6600-4
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