Neal Ascherson, writing in the London Review of Books, has penned a long and detailed review of Artur Domosławski’s book. As someone friendly with Kapuściński and familiar with the “dilemmas of integrity and conscience that are still painful for any journalist who tried to report on the big world in the late 20th century”, his insights are particularly rewarding.
For Ascherson, Domosławski’s book is “compelling, exhaustive and often upsetting.” Presented with a thoroughly engaging, yet highly problematic picture of Kapuściński, Ascherson asserts that:
Domosławski has written a book which is three sorts of cautionary tale: about journalism engaged or disengaged, about the political maze through which intelligent Poles made their way in the later 20th century, about the endless capacity of human beings to believe their own fictions and keep secrets from themselves. He ends up still confident about Kapuściński’s stature as a writer, still attracted to the memory of him as a friend, but amazed at what he has found out. As one of Kapuściński’s former lovers said, ‘he was a complex man living in tangled times, in several eras, in various worlds.’
All but the most dedicated hermit will have noticed the Olympic juggernaut that has recently rolled in to take over the town. If this mass spectacle leaves you somewhere between decidedly underwhelmed and foaming at the mouth, as Steven Poole writing in the Guardian points out, "this bolus of weaponised French spleen will be the perfect literary antidote":
The author gloomily observes the strange contours of the familiar (why is sport also news?), and is very funny in the fury of his denunciations: sport, he says, is violent, a kind of damaging slavery imposed on young children who become, as athletes, "outlandish monsters of mingled fat and muscle", and it renders its "fans" brutish and depoliticised. It is a "planetary religion", the sole project of a "society without projects", and – yes – "the opium of the people" ... This is a polemic that, like a charismatic pole-vaulter, always goes entertainingly over the top.
Visit the Guardian to read the review in full.