Truck Fever: A Journey Through Africa, By Manchan Magan

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The Independent Culture

Riding in the back of a truck from London to Nairobi, sharing your journey with 18 strangers, one of whom you have to choose as your cooking partner and another as the person you're going to share a tent with, sounds like hell on wheels. If you've read any of Manchá*Magan's travel adventures before, though, you'll appreciate it's the kind of situation his writing thrives on.

A little like Jon Ronson, but without the faux naivety and tendency to wheedle interminably, Magan is an outsider: "In a more sophisticated community, it might have made me a leader, but here I sensed I was as likely to end up the runt." Under the guidance of group leader Suzi ("one of those indomitable, fiery women who had formed the backbone of the Empire during the colonial days") the haphazard travellers, including a couple of public schoolgirls and a man who claims he used to be a torturer in the British Army, encounter drug runners, missionaries and witch doctors. Somehow Magan manages to write about it all without insulting anyone.