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A Single Swallow: Following An Epic Journey From South Africa To South Wales

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Published by Vintage, part of Vintage Publishing

Format: Paperback


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EAN: 9780099526315
Published: 4 Mar 2010


About the book


From the slums of Cape Town to the palaces of Algiers, through Pygmy villages where pineapples grow wild, to the Gulf of Guinea where the sea blazes with oil flares, across two continents and fourteen countries - this epic journey is nothing to swallows, they do it twice a year. But for Horatio Clare, writer and birdwatcher, it is the expedition of a lifetime.

Along the way he discovers old empires and modern tribes, a witch-doctor's recipe for stewed swallow, explains how to travel without money or a passport, and describes a terrifying incident involving three Spanish soldiers and a tiny orange dog. By trains, motorbikes, canoes, one camel and three ships, Clare follows the swallows from reed beds in South Africa, where millions roost in February, to a barn in Wales, where a pair nest in May.

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What the critics say

Clare's extraordinary and mesmerising odyssey following the migration of the swallow from South Africa to South Wales
- Herald

A gifted and lyrical travel writer
- Financial Times

The author deploys some fine lyrical writing and a gift for inventive, unexpected metaphor ... Clare's other great asset is his brave, modern, multicultural and open-hearted approach to travel itself
- Guardian

Fizzingly entertaining. His own prose has something of their flight: daring, sharp-edged, fast-moving, graceful, full of surprises. This is a great adventure, thrillingly realised
- Literary Review

Remarkably insightful and entertaining, with Clare proving himself to be the most enthusiastic, open-minded, intelligent and incorrigibly romantic of travellers
- Mail on Sunday

Clare has produced an enthusiastic, often elegiac, chronicle of his encounters with the swallows
- The Sunday Times

His eye for detail and his elegant pen give flavour of each country he crosses: great veldt and high plateaux, Congo's 'green vastness', the 'sandy seas' of the Sahel and, finally, the fertile plain of the north African coast
- The Economist

The resulting book, travel writing at its very best, is enthralling, passionate, hair-raising, quirky, hilarious, informative, occasionally mad and utterly, utterly brilliant... irresistible stuff.
- Daily Mail

Horatio Clare pays tribute to the extraordinary migratory journeys of the swallow...a book that combines travel with natural history
- Metro

It's graphically done, making me feel I was with him all the way
- The Sunday Telegraph, Seven Magazine

Clare is engaging and makes a convincing case for the futility of borders
- Daily Telegraph

An exciting book, and often very moving
- The Lady

This is a book of rare lyrical beauty
- Irish Times

His descriptive prose is faultlessly evocative
- Daily Mail

About the Author

Horatio Clare is the author of Running for the Hills (nominated for the Guardian First Book Award 2006 and shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award), Sicily through Writers' Eyes and Truant: Notes from the Slippery Slope. The journey for this book was partly financed by a Somerset Maugham Award. He has made radio features in Morocco, written about Ethiopia for the New Statesman, and been commissioned by CondeNast Traveller to write on Sicily and Namibia. He has worked as a producer for BBC Radio's 'Night Waves' and 'The Verb'.

Horatio Clare

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