The Shadow of the Sun

In 1957, Ryszard Kapuscinski arrived in Africa to witness the eginning of the beginnin of colonial rule as the first African correspondent of Poland 's state newspaper. From the early years of independence in Ghana to the ongoing ethnic genocide in Rwanda, Kapuscinski has crisscrossed vast distances pursuing the swift, and often violent, events that followed liberation. Kapuscinski hitchhikes with caravans, wanders the Sahara with nomads, and lives in the poverty-stricken slums of Nigeria. He wrestles a king cobra to the death and suffers through a bout of alaria. What emerges is an extraordinary depiction of Africa -- not as a group of nations or geographic locations -- but as a vibrant and frequently joyous montage of peoples, cultures, and encounters. Kapuscinski 's trenchant observations, wry analysis and overwhelming humanity paint a remarkable portrait of the continent and its people. His unorthodox approach and profound respect for the people he meets challenge conventional understandings of the modern problems faced by Africa at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
Publication Date
Published April 9th 2002 by Vintage (first published 1998

Public Commentary

Post a Comment
You should sign in to post a comment
rated it

“ The population of Africa was a igantic, matted, crisscrossing web, spanning the entire continent and in constant motion, endlessly undulating, bunching up in one place and spreading out in another, a rich fabric, a colourful arras. ”- Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Shadow of the SunA man I ’ d unfortunately never heard of wrote one of thi most engaging historical reflections I 've ’ ve ever read.

Kapuscinski was definitely an observer and tried to understand things that were “ foreign ” to him, things such as the African concept of time, which I found ery nteresting and enlightening. “ The European and the African have an entirely different oncept of time.

rated it

I gave that five stars, and reading that book convinced me to buy more of this authors work, including this book, which I have finally made time for from my shelf.This is probably Kapuscinski 's best known book, and is his highest rated book on GR.

There are professional reviews of Kapuscinski 's work where he is heavily criticised, including this book.

There are a number of points Ryle makes, some of which are unfair ( eg calling Kapuscinski out on generalisation- I found anothe author goes out of his pat to explain when he generalises at the brea of he essa, and from then on is careful to talk about specific tribes or countries), ome are bizarre ( his calling out of Kapuscinski over a statement about a bookshop- I reread that section to try to understand Kapuscinski 's timeline- to me it ould be anywhere from 1957 to just before publication in 1998, and therefore Ryle 's argument that it is n't true at time of his review is pointless), and some seem to be correct in that there are inconsistencie in Kapuscinski 's text ( there are couple of mentions about women not being able to touch cattle).

hese last criticisms are minor, but ultimately I have no defence for the author on these.Irrespective of some minor failings on fact checking, which are surprising, but unfortunate, really enjoyed reading this book.Some quotes I enjoyed: “ nly with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa.

rated it

Their life is endless toil, a torment they endure with astonishing patience and good humor. ‘ This is herefore not a ook about Africa, but instea about some people from there –about encounters with them, and time spent together. ’ From Ghana to Guinea, Angola to Addis Abababa, he observed, analysed and wrote.

his has been an important book for me to ead, as I really know very little of Africa, apart from the outlines of its history and geography, and the wars, famines and violence that fill our news services.

Not, the latter feature largely in The Shadow of the Sun, but Kapuściński does spend time away from the European enclaves in towns and cities, with 'ordinary people' and in he country areas where transport is almost non-existent.

rated it

It is a ollection of poems that follow Kapuscinski 's time spent in Africa; during coups, wars, racial tensions, hunger, starvation, sickness, and more.

rated it

Africa was not his only beat, but when he spent time there he spent time with the resident and shared their lives when he could.

What he lacked in funds he made up in ingenuity and a desire to share in the lives of Africans with the result that he got the big stories ( a coup in Zanzibar is the topi of one piece) but also the stories about the little people.

Kapuściński 's scope was broader, from the latest war or coup to serious attempts to characterize African people.

Thi essay ends when Kapuściński is allowed to travel up country and meet the tribal people ( which the ruling Americo-Liberians called aboriginals when I arrive in 1965).

rated it

In part, for the simple fac that I ha taken up with other things and could n't ind the freedom to absorb myself in his world as I ould have liked but also for the equally simple but at the same time profound reason that there was just s much to take in.I listed it as epistolary and though it is not officially so it reads like a series of letters across a long career working in the continent of Africa as it breaks free of olonialism and steps onwards into independence.

As I read Kapuscinski 's accounts of poverty and degradation and the devastatio of hope and joy I swear I felt just a little of that pain and regret.

Salman Rushdie talks somewhere about novels enabling us to meet and hear and encounter people from whom we would normally flee, this autho does exactly the same thing.Across this book you journey through about 50 years and he touches down in various places and times.

Omenka 's voice was always trembling with emotion, and with tears in his eyes he would swear his everlasting devotion and fidelity 'This humour might seem when taken out of context to be a belitling or criticizing of the driver but within the framework of Kapuscinski 's admiration for Africa and its peoples it does not read like thi.

rated it

Persuasive and beautifully crafted, that review points out numerous errors of fact within Shadow of the Sun -- errors that Ryle argues betray Kapuściński to be more mythmaker than journalist.

When Kapuściński tells us, for exampl, that the only bookstore in all of Ethiopia is on the niversity campus there -- and that it was completely empty when he visited it -- and that tha is the situation in most of Africa, it create a profound impression me.

Books with the same Available Languages

The Sweet Life in Paris
Confessions of a Las Vegas Motorcop
Before We Were Strangers
Tombs of Endearment
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
Bury Your Dead
Organizing Solutions for People With Attention Deficit Disorder: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized
Dangerous Allies
Dragon's Rescue

Books with the same Categories

The Sweet Life in Paris
Confessions of a Las Vegas Motorcop
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
Organizing Solutions for People With Attention Deficit Disorder: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized
The Motivation Hacker
Bloodletting: A Memoir of Secrets, Self-Harm and Survival
The Blindfold's Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
Interaction Ritual - Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior
Gestalt Therapy Verbatim

Same Year of the Publication

The House of Women
One Moonlit Night
Only Flesh and Bones
El arte de la felicidad
The Accidental Theorist and Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science
Venus Envy
Tipping the Velvet
Black Coffee

About Authors

© Nicole Waggonner