Rules of the Wild
A Novel of Africa
By Francesca Marciano
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375703430, 304pp.)
Publication Date: September 7, 1999
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.
Francesca Marciano is a documentary filmmaker who divides her time between Rome and Kenya. This is her first novel.
"Remarkable . . . sensuous . . . compellingly readable . . . makes you feel as if you've come back from someplace very far away." --USA Today
"An intensely romantic novel . . . worthy of Flaubert." --The New York Times
"An updated English Patient. . . . Engaging. . . . A page-turner. . . . Intense and lyrical." --Elle