cover image Whites


Norman Rush / Author Alfred A. Knopf $14.95 (150p) ISBN 978-0-

The most extraordinary aspect of these stories set in Botswana is the absolute authenticity of each of the narrative voices. All are stripped, even severe, but readers will easily distinguish among them. The narrator in ""Bruns,'' a fanatic determined to impose his own moral code on the Boers, who hate him, is distinctively different from the character Frank, ``Alone in Africa'' while his wife is on vacation, leaving him to a bottle of good Riesling and the quirky sexual ministrations of a nubile Botswanan. The heartbreak of everyday tragedy, as evoked in ``Near Pala'' by three women in the drought-parched land beseeching the passengers in a car for water, is heightened by a joltingly ironic ending. Most moving of all, speaking as it seems from the heart of Africa, is the voice of Mokgalagadi, the righteous boy born of a tribe destined for misfortune and thrown out of his mission school. At once innocent and disingenuous, he protests against thieving, yet is saved by thieves, begs on behalf of God, yet is reduced to begging from the houses of God. It is wonderful to hear the click of African syllables in counterpoint to the genteel English of petty officials. In their variety, their pointblank aim, their refusal to editorialize, these six stories raise the curtain on the dark, restless drama of present-day Africa. March 3