The Shadow of the Sun

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Book cover of The Shadow of the Sun

Book description

'Only with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa. In reality, except as a geographical term, Africa doesn't exist'. Ryszard Kapuscinski has been writing about the people of Africa throughout his career. In astudy that avoids the official routes, palaces and big politics, he…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Shadow of the Sun as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This short book is without doubt the best introduction to African travel (and in my opinion one of the greatest travel books ever written).

Ranging across the whole continent, Kapuscinski’s evocative writing, although not always sticking religiously to factual details, captures the essence—and the magic—of the place like nobody else can. The book, along with his other great works on Africa Another Day of Life and The Emperor, was a major influence on both why I wanted to get to know Africa and how I write about it. 

From Mark's list on travel in Africa.

Don’t try to rush through this. And don’t expect to “find out what happened.” It’s a slow wander back and forth across the continent, with missives penned in over a dozen countries over the course of forty years. Every description, whether of something mundane or momentous, is worth savoring. Kapuscinski is an eastern European who grew up in poverty and he expects the Africans he meets to be neither better nor worse than his European compatriots. He marvels at the cockroaches in Monrovia and witnesses the politics and people behind uprisings and coups. He delights in the fluid, elasticity of…

I prefer to read books whose focus lingers long enough on a conflict to uncover its complexities and contradictions. But in this instance, despite The Shadow of the Sun sometimes reading like a backpacker’s travel memoir, I couldn’t put it down. Spanning four decades and much of Africa, the narrative begins in the newly independent Ghana of the nineteen-sixties when the hopes and aspirations of a continent are alive on the streets of Accra, and continues through to the troubled times of Eritrea and Ethiopia in the mid-nineties and many coups and wars in between. Kapuściński’s writing covers the mundane…

From Denis' list on the tragedy of war.

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