Saturday, April 21, 2007

travel journalism: Ryszard Kapuscinski

Since we are talking about travel journalism, I have to mention Ryszard Kapuscinski - Polish first, and for long time only, foreign correspondent. Among his many books my favorite one is "The Emperor", which describes the rise and fall of Ethiopian King Haile Selassie. Read this book, and I am sure that it will convince you to read his other books.

Also read this interview with Kapuscinski to see how interesting person he was and how much he was committed to what he was doing. Here is a piece taken from this interview:

Why am I a writer? Why have I risked my life so many times, come so close to dying? Is it to report the weirdness? To earn my salary? Mine is not a vocation, it's a mission. I wouldn't subject myself to these dangers if I didn't feel that there was something overwhelmingly important—about history, about ourselves—that I felt compelled to get across. This is more than journalism.

And here you can get a taste of Kapuscinski's writing from "The Soccer War":

I was driving along a road where they say no white man can come back alive. I was driving to see if a white man could, because I had to experience everything for myself. I know that a man shudders in the forest when he passes close to a lion. I got close to a lion so that I would know how it feels. I had to do it myself because I knew no one could describe it to me. And I cannot describe it myself. Nor can I describe a night in the Sahara. The stars over the Sahara are enormous. They sway above the sand like great chandeliers. The light of those stars is green. Night in the Sahara is as green as a Mazowsze meadow.

I might see the Sahara again and I might see the road that carried me through Yoruba country again. I drove up a hill and when I got to the crest I could see the first flaming roadblock below.

It was too late to turn back.