Despite its avian title, A Single Swallow is not about birds, but is a travel book. Author Horatio Clare sets out to follow the swallow’s northward migration route from South Africa to his native South Wales. He does so by way of Namibia, Zambia, Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Algeria, Morocco, Gibraltar, Spain, France, and England.
Clare keeps an eye out for, and sees, swallows throughout his journey, but the book is primarily about what it’s like to travel through modern Africa, interacting with locals and fellow travellers. As someone who has never been to Africa, I found it a fascinating read. Clare is also very good (and honest) writing about himself. He comes across as a likeable, somewhat chaotic character, who trusts to luck far more that I would be comfortable with. Which makes him (and not me) a highly entertaining travel writer.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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