The Immanence of God in the Tropics
Stories by George Rosen
Publishers Weekly pick of the week for September 10, 2012
A Publishers Weekly top 10 travel book
My students were dissecting field mice when Gichuru
called me into the school office. Gichuru is our headmaster,
an intelligent man with a dark, handsome African
face that belongs on a coin. He waved a letter in
my face. “Read it!” he said. “They refuse to come here.
He says our field is like a battleground, that if the
game is played here the boys will disappear into holes,
that they will never be seen again.”
Tales of soccer, death, hot water, lost love, and the presence of God in Africa, Mexico, and the coast of New England
“The stories in George Rosen’s “The Immanence of God in the Tropics” take place in unlikely sites under unsure conditions; they treat with respect odd people – a man somewhere between a bum and a crazy, another who’s afraid of words; a reticent couple who practice reckless abandon. The unadorned sentences often reach a conclusion whose truth makes you catch your breath. This unpretentious book is teh work of a master."
—Edith Pearlman, author of Binocular Vision; National Book Award finalist; winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Told with a vivid, pungent sense of place, whether on a bumpy soccer pitch carved from an African forest or a tall ship in a dazzling sea, these
are tales of unexpected encounters far from home. A Great White Hunter
with more wives than money turns into Africa’s least competent thief; two
Americans learning Spanish contemplate the costs and possibilities of love
in the mountains of Mexico; a father wades into the surf to protect his
daughter from the (usually) harmless local lunatic; and a seasick disciple
of Dr. Livingstone bumps into God on the equator. Unprotected by the
comforts of home, Rosen’s characters turn unexpected corners as they
look for that place where “everywhere, there is something remarkable.”
Publishers Weekly, September 2012
"The seven stories in Rosen’s vivid collection declare their directness and transparency from the get-go; with each title preceded by a location and date—“Kenya, 1973”; “Mexico, 2004”; “New England, 1988”—a sense of place figures prominently throughout, as do physical descriptions of characters and fragmentary personal histories. Essentially, Rosen is a yarn spinner in the best sense of the word. “A Good White Hunter” tracks the steady descent into criminality of the rugged title character, Atherton, who has three African wives and very little impulse control. Often, Rosen’s narratives are frames for characters who are themselves storytellers, with culture clashes at the center. “The Sauna After Ted’s Funeral” brings together a Finn named Willi with two characters called Nutbrown and Squillace and a fourth, an American called Alden, who relates south of the border misadventures. In the title story, set in East Africa in 1858, an inexperienced missionary struggles to find his footing among veteran colleagues while absorbing the sensory overload of the unfamiliar natural beauty around him. Linkages of time or place seem less important to Rosen (Black Money) than simply writing energetic and lovingly described stories."
“George Rosen's characters make local and exotic excursions and come always to a place we can recognize—an inner geography where one must face the measure of one's strength, failure, judgment, and humanity. A father abandons his workaday philosophies and rationalizations and enters the primal to rescue his daughter; a ‘good white hunter’ finds more responsibility than he bargained for in Africa, and chooses theft as a way out—with unexpected consequences; a nineteenth century missionary finds a more tactile and constant God in a land he has come to convert. Rosen's openings are subtle, and lure you into believing you are simply observing lives, hearing well-told tales: by the end of his stories his characters are up against the wall, facing stark choices of survival. This is precise, moving writing—a powerful and compelling collection.”
—Joseph Hurka, author of Fields of Light and Before
"George Rosen is a remarkable storyteller, generous and full of illuminating sympathy. He combines excellences that are hard to combine: narrative momentum with brilliantly shaped individual sentences, gracefulness of motion with moral earnestness. And he is not afraid of talking about death and God."
—Lawrence Rosenwald, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of American Literature, Wellesley College; literary critic and translator.
“I first read The Immanence of God in the Tropics when I was Editor of the Yale Review and was proud to see it in our pages. I have looked back on it as one of the most compelling stories we published in those years. That was twenty five years ago. I re-read it the other day when I learned that it was about to appear in a collection of Rosen’s work being brought out by Leapfrog Press, and I found that the high opinion I had of it then has not diminished in the slightest. It is a thoughtful, reflective, sensitive, and—in every meaning of the word—a graceful work."
—Kai Erikson, former Editor of The Yale Review
"Rosen is a yarn spinner in the best sense of the word." --Publishers Weekly