You know those books that just sort of appeared in your bookshelf and you don’t remember buying them, and then they sit there for years until you completely run out of things to read, and then finally you pick them up and open them? The Shadow of the Sun was one of those for me.
I have no idea where it came from – possibly it was wrongly placed in one of my boxes during the dividing of the things when Husband and I separated – but I’ve never picked it up because my reading pile tends to be pretty large. The other day I finally got around to it, and was glad I had.
It’s non-fiction, charting the journey of Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Polish journalist who travelled around Africa in the latter part of the 20th century. He describes the experiences he had there, the people he met, the trials he succumbed to along the way. He gives a lesson in the history and sociology of various African countries, including a fascinating account of Rwanda in the 80s and 90s which finally gave me an understanding of the war there, which I’d heard about at the time but never really understood.
The writing is rich and beautiful, and it’s easy to feel like you’re sitting with the author in his room, eyeing up the huge cockroaches wearily in the scorching midday heat. His description of the elephant graveyard legend is particularly beautiful, and there were several passages that I had to reread a few times just to drink in their explanations.
I’d definitely recommend this for anyone who’s remotely interested in journalism, travel, history, or just really good writing. It’s a pretty quick read, just over 300 pages, and great for a long weekend or a few days away. Once you’ve picked it up you won’t want to put it down.