An autobiographical novel, long out of print, continues Sanora Babb's story as begun in her memoir, An Owl on Every Post. Set in Kansas in the early 1930s, it is a rich character study of a classic American individualist and his family. The father, a complex and magnetic man, is portrayed from the perspective of his brave and proud daughter, Robin. Against the dark background of his declining fortunes stand Robin's high spirits and intelligence as she experiences the turbulent emotions of first sexual love and rebels against the circumstances of the gambler's rambling life. The novel's depiction of the Great Depression era and its lost families is one that will haunt readers long after the final page.
The author's first book manuscript was her Dust Bowl novel Whose Names Are Unknown, which Random House didn't publish because The Grapes of Wrath came out first. Thus, The Lost Traveler, published in 1958, was her first published, and well-received, novel.
"There is a good deal of laughter in The Lost Traveler. There is a good deal of tragedy in it, too, for Miss Babb has given us a living and unflinchingly honest picture of a wandering gambler and his family. This is her first novel and she shows herself to be a searching storyteller." New York Times
"Strongly recommended. A fascinating story of a professional nomadic gambler who starts by being a hero in the eyes of his wife and daughters and ends in lonely disgrace: occasionally embarrassing, frequently funny, and as an account of the development of family relationships good by any standards."London Sunday Times
". . . a remarkable job of making the hero sympathetic and understandable in spite of his occupation and occasional brutality. [The author] has made the whole family come alive, particularly Robin, the only member of the family with fortitude enough to stand up to her father." Los Angeles Mirror News