Polish Writer Ryszard Kapuscinski Dies


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Polish writer and
journalist who gained international acclaim for his books chronicling
wars, coups and revolutions in Africa, the Middle East and other parts
of the world, died following heart surgery, his publisher said. He was

Kapuscinski died Tuesday at Warsaw’s Banacha hospital, said Marek
Zakowski, president of the Czytelnik publishing house, which published
several of Kapuscinski’s books and is editing a new one, ”Lappidarium
6.” Zakowski declined to give any more details about the surgery or the
precise cause of death.

Poland’s parliament honored him with a moment of silence Wednesday
morning, and Speaker Marek Jurek praised him as ”a witness of human
suffering and a witness of people’s hopes.”. ”There is no one among
Poland’s writers to fill in the space left by him,” said Zakowski, who
said he knew the writer for more than 30 years.

He described Kapuscinski as ”a rare kind of great personality. He was
always curious to learn more about the world, he was curious to meet

Kapuscinski launched a career in the late 1950s and early 1960s that
would see him become a master of reportage. In those years, he served as
the sole Africa correspondent for the Polish Press Agency, or PAP,
reporting on the upheaval across the continent as African nations shook
off colonial rule and declared independence.

He went on to publish books such as ”The Emperor,” probably his most
popular book, a chronicle of the decline of Haile Selassie’s regime in
Ethiopia. But the book, published in 1978, was more a reflection on
dictatorships in general, and widely interpreted by Polish readers as a
criticism of Poland’s communist regime.

Kapuscinski once said the book was more about the ”mechanism of dictatorial rule.”

Three years later, he published ”Shah of Shahs,” a book about the
1979 Islamic revolution that toppled Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
”Besides reporting current events, I studied books about Islam,”
Kapuscinski said, according to his official Web site.

'I wanted to describe the people, their mentality, their way of seeing
the world. And experience taught me that from each spot in the world one
sees the planet differently. A person who lives in Europe sees the
world differently than a person who lives in Africa. Without trying to
enter into these other ways of looking and perceiving and describing, we
won’t understand anything of this world.”

Several of Kapuscinski’s books were translated into English. He also
wrote ”Another Day of Life,” about the Angolan civil war,
”Imperium,” about the waning days of the Soviet Union, ”The Soccer
War,” and ”The Shadow of the Sun.”

In past years, he was often mentioned as a likely contender for the
Nobel Prize for literature by oddsmakers and followers of the prize —
though the Swedish Academy itself is secretive about who it considers.

Kapuscinski was born in March 4, 1932, in Pinsk, a city then in eastern
Poland, and now located in Belarus. He is survived by his wife, Alicja,
and a daughter who lives in Canada, Zakowski said. There was no
immediate information about funeral arrangements.


Associated Press writer Ryan Lucas in Warsaw contributed to this report.