Friday, August 19, 2011

The Shadow of the Sun - Ryszard Kapuściński (Book Review)

I picked up The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński while I was on holiday in California last week and definitely need to recommend this one! Not only for those interested in essays on Africa, but also for the pure captivating storytelling and wonderful writing.

Ryszard Kapuściński was a Polish journalist who covered the news in Africa from the later 50's until the 90's, and each chapter in the book relates a different experience. Think the independence of Ghana, Idi Amin's coup in Uganda, traveling through the Sahara with no water, living in the slums of Nigeria, the genocide in Rwanda... Each essay contains fact but also the world from the author's eyes, descriptions of real people, of places, feelings, emotions, colours... Kapuściński never really felt comfortable in the richer, "white" areas, and tended to prefer living and travelling with the everyday population in every country he visited and/or lived in, which gives us great insight into his own personal experiences of Africa.

What I really appreciate about this book is that it is definitely written by a journalist (his ability to outline every experience with historical background that helps the reader get a better understanding about the current situations in each country as he writes about them), he is also an excellent writer. His descriptions of the insane heat of the sun, and the complete darkness of the African nights are palpable.

Excellent read, even if you never really know if he is always telling the truth or not (read this interesting article on that exact subject).

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