by Artur Domosławski
Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Published by Verso Books
Reporting from such varied locations as postcolonial Africa, revolutionary Iran, the military dictatorships of Latin America and Soviet Russia, the Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuściński was one of the most influential eyewitness journalists of the twentieth century. During the Cold War, he was a dauntless investigator as well as a towering literary talent, and books such as The Emperor and Travels with Herodotus founded the new genre of ‘literary reportage’. It was an achievement that brought him global renown, not to mention the uninvited attentions of the CIA.
In this definitive biography, Artur Domosławski shines a new light on the personal relationships of this intensely charismatic, deeply private man, examining the intractable issue at the heart of Kapuściński’s life and work: the relationship and tension between journalism and literature.
In researching this book, Domosławski, himself an award-winning foreign correspondent, enjoyed unprecedented access to Kapuściński’s private papers. The result traces his mentor’s footsteps through Africa and Latin America, delves into files and archives that Kapuściński himself examined, and records conversations with the people that he talked to in the course of his own investigations. Ryszard Kapuściński is a meticulous, riveting portrait of a complex man of intense curiosity living at the heart of dangerous times.
Artur Domosławski writes on international politics for the weekly review Polityka and for the Polish edition of Le Monde diplomatique, and for two decades reported for the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. In 2010 he received Poland’s prestigious Journalist of the Year Award. A Knight Fellow at Stanford University in 2005-2006, he is the author of five books and is currently working on a book about contemporary Latin America.
Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a full-time translator of Polish literature. Her published translations include fiction by several of Poland’s leading contemporary novelists, including The Last Supper by Paweł Huelle, for which she won the Found in Translation Award 2008. Her translations of non-fiction include reportage, literary biographies and essays. She also translates poetry and books for children, including illustrated books, novels and verse. She occasionally takes part in translation conferences, reads her work at public events, and interprets for the writers whom she translates at literary festivals. Last year she participated in Translation Nation, a project to teach primary school children the value of knowing languages. She recently mentored a younger translator within a project run by the British Centre for Literary Translation, and initiated by the UK Translators Association, of which she is currently a committee member.