He has been voted the greatest journalist of the 20th century. In an unparalleled career, Ryszard Kapuściński transformed the humble job of reporting into a literary art, chronicling the wars, coups and bloody revolutions that shook Africa and Latin America in the 1960s and 70s. But a new book claims that the legendary Polish journalist, who died three years ago aged 74, repeatedly crossed the boundary between reportage and fiction-writing – or, to put it less politely, made stuff up. In a 600-page biography of the writer published in Poland yesterday, Artur Domoslawski says Kapuściński often strayed from the strict rules of “Anglo-Saxon journalism”. He was often inaccurate with details, claiming to have witnessed events he was not present at. On other occasions, Kapuściński invented images to suit his story, departing from reality in the interests of a superior aesthetic truth, Domoslawski claims. Domoslawski told the Guardian: “Sometimes the literary idea conquered him. In one passage, for example, he writes that the fish in Lake Victoria in Uganda had grown big from feasting on people killed by Idi Amin. It’s a colourful and terrifying metaphor. In fact, the fish got larger after eating smaller fish from the Nile.”
more from Luke Harding at The Guardian here.