Ryszard Kapuściński - reportage emperor

23th of January 2008 has been the first anniversary of the passing, at the age of 74, of the remarkable Polish writer and journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, who made a career of reporting from the third world where he was sent by the Polish News Agency he worked for, covering the African continent for over 40 years including 27 revolutions and coups.

He had acquired an almost celebrity status in Poland, where his books were read as thinly disguised commentaries on communist Poland. They included The Emperor (1978), on the fall of that extraordinary figure Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. (It was his first book to be translated into English, and Jonathan Miller adapted it for the Royal Court Theatre in 1985.)

Another Day of Life (1976), was a unique and closely observed account of the collapse of Portuguese colonialism in Angola. Shah of Shahs (1982), was about the last days of the Shah of Persia, He wrote about the collapse of the Soviet Union in Imperium (1993), essays and reportage on the Soviet Union, and five volumes of essays and poems, Lapidarium.

He was admired by writers like Salman Rushdie and John Updike for his lyrical prose and was regarded as a major figure in the world of literary non-fiction where he used metaphor in a way that some journalists have found closer to magic realism than to reportage.


 
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