Here’s a match up. Norman Rush (Botswana CD 1978-83) reviewed V.S. Naipaul’s new book: The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief that Knopf just published. The book covers Naipaul’s 2008-2009 trip to Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Gabon, and South Africa. Rush’s review is in The New York Review of Books (November 11, 2010) issue and opens with this line: It’s hard to be fair to V.S. Naipaul.
You know the review is only going to get better.
Norm goes onto write, “Hanging over the varying approaches to Naipaul’s work is the bad air released by Patrick French’s biography.” That book, The World Is What It is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul came out in 2008.)
Rush, and his absolutely charming and beautiful wife, Elsa, were co-directors in Botswana where, from all accounts, Norm handled the paperwork and Elsa handled the PCVs. From all accounts they were great directors and why the agency doesn’t have more ‘duel’ directors is beyond me, but then most of what D.C. is beyond me.
From Norm’s time in Africa has come three of the best books of fiction on Africa: Whites, a collection of short stories, and two novels, Mating and Mortals.
As I understand it, Norm’s new novel is not set in Africa; we wait its arrival.
Meanwhile, (if you haven’t read Norm Rush) start with Whites. If you haven’t read Naipaul, start with A Bend in the River.
Then drop me a note and tell me what you think. I’m betting on Rush.