Ryszard Kapuscinski lives in Warsaw, Poland.
Colorful writing and a deep intelligence highlight these essays' graceful exploration of postcolonial Africa. A Polish journalist who has written about the continent for more than three decades, Kapuscinski provides glimpses into African life far beyond what has been covered in headlines or in most previous books on the subject. The dispatches focus on the awkward relationship between Europe and Africa. Kapuscinski, whose books have been translated into 19 languages (they include The Emperor and The Soccer War), makes this clear through his own personal struggle with malaria soon after he first arrived on the continent. This emphasis also comes through in his dispatches on African nations such as Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Rwanda, which detail how the giddy optimism of the immediate postcolonial era disintegrated into corruption, poverty and conflict. But even as he describes a familiar story, his keen observations make it fresh. Writing about the provincialism of Rwanda, he says, "A trip round the world is a journey from backwater to backwater, each of which considers itself... a shining star." But political observations are just one of the strengths of this book. Kapuscinski's seemingly effortless writing style makes daily life come alive whether he's covering an Arab vendor making coffee or the efforts made at night by lizards to catch their mosquito prey. (The lizards' "eyes are capable of 180-degree rotation within their sockets, like the telescopes of astronomers....") Ultimately, this book is a personal and political travelogue of one man's rocky love affair with a continent of nations. Those looking for an engaging, literary introduction to Africa or even for some additional knowledge should look no further. (Apr.) Forecast: Kapuscinski is a very popular writer in Europe but has never broken out here. With a cluster of books on Africa coming out this season, this will get some media attention and may sell better than his previous books. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"A highly detailed, heartfelt, but unsentimental introduction to Africa's afflictions and a quiet love song to its profound appeal." --The Wall Street Journal, Ryszard Kapuscinski (Author of The Emperor)
"The penetrating intelligence of Mr. Kapuscinski's vision and his knack for a kind of crystallized descriptive writing have never been on better display. . . . A marvel of humane, sorrowful and lucid observation." --The New York Times "[Kapuscinski] has explored that sliver of high, thinly populated ground on which journalism and literature are occasionally joined. . . . A wise, engaging close-up filled with faces, landscapes, rutted roads, and the daily perils of African life." --BusinessWeek "[Kapuscinski's] great strengths are his style--candid, understated and slightly absurdist, veering into abrupt flights of lyricism on unexpected subjects--and his gift for picking out stories, that condense volumes of information into a single perfectly crafted passage." --The Washington Post