Set in Barbados in the 1940s, this is a novel of Caribbean childhood with several key features, in addition to the fresh vigour of the young Austin Clarke’s style. It is one of the most angry books on the attempted destruction of innocence and hope by the colonial education system in which savage beatings play a distressing part. It is one of the first novels of childhood to focus on the role of emigration on parental absence. Milton Sobers’ father is in the USA and his stories of Harlem make Milton want to leave Barbados and join him. Milton’s response is to run away in the hope that he can escape his stepfather and even reach Harlem.Austin C. Clarke
is hailed as a pioneer of Caribbean-Canadian literature and is one of Canada's most prolific, if not well known, writers.