Francesca Marciano Rules of the Wild

ISBN 13: 9780099288060

Rules of the Wild

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9780099288060: Rules of the Wild

In the vast spaces of East Africa lives a close-knit tribe of white expatriates. They all know each other. They meet at dinner parties; they share the same doctors and eat at the same restaurants; they sleep with each other and take the same drugs. Set in contemporary Nairobi, RULES OF THE WILD is at once a sharp-eyed dissection of white society in modern Kenya and the moving story of a young woman, Esme, struggling to make sense of both her place in Africa and her feelings for the two men she loves - Adam, a second-generation Kenyan who is the first to show her the beauty of her adopted land, and Hunter, a British journalist sickened by its horrors. Romantic, often very funny and always compulsively readable, RULES OF THE WILD will be recognised as a classic novel about the white man in Africa, a book to sit beside OUT OF AFRICA and WHITE MISCHIEF.

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Review:

Things have certainly changed in Kenya since the 1930s, when Baroness Karen Blixen (a.k.a. Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa) had a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills. In Francesca Marciano's Rules of the Wild, the Blixen spread has become an affluent white suburb of Nairobi, home to the tony "Karen" Shopping Mall and populated by a new breed of narcissistic young expatriates and second-generation white Africans. Esme, the beautiful twentysomething Italian narrator, lands in Kenya by happenstance, seeking to escape a painful past and the recent death of her beloved father. Captivated by the sheer physical beauty of the landscape and the raw honesty of her new "tribe," Esme is further ensnared by her love for two dynamic men--one a gentle 1990s version the Great White Hunter, the other an angry journalist obsessed by the carnage of Somalia and Rwanda. In her eminently readable novel, Marciano creates a hip, knowing set of characters who are ironically aware that their easy lifestyle, supported by trust funds and cheap labor, contrasts darkly with the poverty and decay of east Africa. Esme, an intense and thoughtful observer of the scene, struggles not only with the desire to test herself, "to love without illusion, to love without feeling safe", but with what it means to be white in Africa, living in bizarre isolation from the native culture, drawing spiritual sustenance from the land but protected from the continent's turmoil. Finally, the passion she develops for Kenya roots her and gives her purpose, a home. As one of her friends observes, "I'll tell you what it is about this place.... It sentences you to freedom ... you are constantly reminded of what it means to be free and to be alive. And then it becomes difficult to settle for anything less than this." --Marianne Painter

From the Inside Flap:

A mesmerizing novel of love and nostalgia set in the vast spaces of contemporary East Africa.

Romantic, often resonantly ironic, moving and wise, Rules of the Wild transports us to a landscape of unsurpassed beauty even as it gives us a sharp-eyed portrait of a closely knit tribe of cultural outsiders: the expatriates living in Kenya today. Challenged by race, by class, and by a longing for home, here are "safari boys" and samaritans, reporters bent on their own fame, travelers who care deeply about elephants but not at all about the people of Africa. They all know each other. They meet at dinner parties, they sleep with each other, they argue about politics and the best way to negotiate their existence in a place where they don't really belong.

At the center is Esmé, a beautiful young woman of dazzling ironies and introspections, who tells us her story in a voice both passionate and self-deprecating. Against a paradoxical backdrop of limitless physical freedom and escalating civil unrest, Esmé struggles to make sense of her own place in Africa and of her feelings for the two men there whom she loves--Adam, a second-generation Kenyan who is the first to show her the wonders of her adopted land, and Hunter, a British journalist sickened by its horrors.        

Rules of the Wild evokes the worlds of Isak Dinesen, Beryl Markham, and Ernest Hemingway. It explores unforgettably our infinite desire for a perfect elsewhere, for love and a place to call home. It is an astonishing literary debut.

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