Books: Scorched Souls

A TREE ON FIRE by Alan Sillitoe. 451 pages. Doubleday. $5.95.

As one of the angriest of Britain's Angry Young Men, Alan Sillitoe made painfully vivid the mill-town world of chapped hands and cold-water sinks in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. In this novel, he seems neither quite so young and angry, nor quite so British.

Frank Dawley, a young ex-factory worker, has deserted his wife and his pregnant mistress to fight for the F.L.N. against the French in Algeria. His journey turns into what might be called an existential Pilgrim's Progress. Is he simply trying to escape the ties of his former...

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