I’m reading “Mating” for the fourth time (first read in 1994). It’s draw is both as an exotic read (place and language used) and as intellectual story (deep investigation of how men & women fall in love).
Norman Rush took 10 years to write the novel. The work he put into it shows. The characters are real; the prose is inventive; the language highly original; lexicon exhaustingly difficult at times (I had to think hard about, or look up, three words in a single sentence!).
What you get with this story is a fully realized world, in which people act through their emotions and reactions to other people. The characters live large in this book. They live on in your mind when you close its covers each night. The story stays active in your memory long after the book has been returned to the shelf.
Africa is its location; post-colonialism attitudes and white v. black v. establishment v. aid agencies is its conflicts. At its center is an anthropologist whose PhD thesis is a bust, and she meets this uber-sociologist whose ideas have been put into action, and whose now in Africa establishing an all-women proto-society somewhere in the Kalahari. They meet. Things happen.
People often ask me to recommend books for them. I always fly “Mating”‘s flag.