Norman Rush was born and raised in the San Francisco area, and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1956. He has been an antiquarian book dealer, a college instructor, and, with his wife, Elsa, lived and worked in Africa from 1978 to 1983. His first book, Whites, a collection of stories, was published in 1986. Mating is his first novel. It was awarded the National Book Award for fiction.