Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932-2007)


A great writer and a great man… I had the honor of meeting him once and giving him a tour of Los Angeles. I very much hoped I would have the chance to keep his company again. To me, he was one of the heroes of the 20th century and he was one of those few, brave persons who helped to give Poland some of its soul back.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, a globe-trotting journalist from Poland whose writing, often tinged with magical realism, brought him critical acclaim and a wide international readership, died yesterday in Warsaw. He was 74.

His death, at a hospital, was reported by PAP, the Polish news agency for which he had worked. No cause was given, but he was known to have had cancer.

Mr. Kapuscinski (pronounced ka-poos-CHIN-ski) spent some four decades observing and writing about conflict throughout the developing world. He witnessed 27 coups and revolutions. He spent his working days gathering information for the terse dispatches he sent to PAP, often from places like Ougadougou or Zanzibar.

At night, he worked on longer, descriptive essays with phantasmagoric touches that went far beyond the details of the day’s events, using allegory and metaphors to convey what was happening.

more from the NY Times here.