P. H. Newby, who has always been one of the more distinctive British writers, has so many resources at his command-wit, quizzical satire, immense narrative versatility- that often his more serious intentions have been obscured. Here he returns to the venue of his Anglo-Egyptian trilogy where superficial events are even more parlous and unpredictable: Nasser has just nationalized the Suez Canal and people of all kinds are in a state of uncertainty and disruption. All of this is reflected and magnified through the mind of one Townrow, as slippery as a newt to begin with-a man of no particular scruples or convictions who becomes even more of a drifter adrift. What happens becomes increasingly difficult to determine since actuality and fantasy are indistinguishable in his mind which has skidded. Often he returns to the implication-accusation of the title-on the way to Port Said a Jew holds him responsible as an Englishman for the tragedy of his race's genocide. Townrow chafes at the charges-"It's quite all right to hate people for what they've done in the past but not when it confuses you about the real world you live in." Before long it is evident that Townrow is totally confused about himself and the questions of individual and collective guilt, of allegiance and neutrality lead on to that of personal identity. At no point is Townrow sure who he is or what he now is involved in: his succor of the rich, older widow of a Lebanese entrepreneur (gun runner?) who was killed on the streets; his ambivalent affair with the daughter of her lawyer whose husband is in a mental hospital. Events move swiftly against the violence and anarchy of the city under constant shelling; they are skillfully managed as a photomontage for Townrow's disorientation. A little Kafka-a little Greene-a little Ambler in a charade which is also an expertly agile entertainment poised between the unsuspected and the unknown. (Kirkus Reviews)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
P. H. Newby (1918-1997) was an English novelist and broadcasting administrator. His first novel, A Journey into the Interior
, was published in l946. He was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1948, and he was the first winner of the Booker (now Man Booker) Prize - his novel Something to Answer For
received the inaugural award in 1969.
--This text refers to an alternate