LIT_Fiction

Sammy Going South

The prodigious length of the African continent unrolls before the reader in this novel of Sammy Hartland’s journal south from Port Said in Egypt. He meant to find his last remaining relative in Durban, some five thousand miles away, but realised neither the obstacle of distance nor the perils of passage. He merely sighted the rising sun on his left and headed south. Sammy was a ten year old English boy, orphaned by a bomb dropped on the Egyptian port city during the Suez affair.

The story of Sammy is an odyssey of innocent fortitude. As he inched along, he took up with a succession of companions, among them a Syrian trader, a band of pilgrims, an American lady, an Italian press correspondent looking for a story. He became never the wiser about how far his travels took him, nor was he aware of the multitude and intensity of the dangers that brushed him - except for one time his newest friend, a big game hunter, rescued him from the charge of rhino. But he did learn which of all the adults encountered he liked the best, and as he dodged and lost the unpleasant ones, and continued on his way through desert and jungle, he became a sensational news story. It is the triple focus, on the variety of characters, on the strangeness and beauty of the African country, and on the direct and simple actions of a boy with a goal to keep him alive, that gives the novel its unusual quality of humour, zest, and a certain inevitable pathos.

Under the title Find a Boy, this was W. H. Canaway’s first novel to be published in the USA.