Synopses & Reviews
In the powerful travel-writing tradition of Ryszard Kapuciñski and V.S. Naipaul, a haunting memoir of a dangerous and disorienting year of self-discovery in one of the world’s unhappiest countries.
In August 2005, Anjan Sundaram abandoned his path to a Yale Ph.D. in mathematics to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and refashion himself as a journalist. He found a country that was diseased, corrupt, and poised on the cusp of war. When Sundaram is engaged as a “stringer” for the Associated Press, he becomes a chronicler for a country he’s just beginning to experience. Stringer is his searing portrait of life in this broken, lawless place, an account of the rocky education of a reporter. Sundaram describes the grueling reality of daily existence in the Congo, intimately outlining his own struggle to make sense of life in a world where cab rides can end at gunpoint and rebel generals are only a phone call away. As the city of Kinshasha descends into anarchy after a contested election, Sundaram takes shelter in a factory to file report after report even as other journalists flee. Oscillating between anger and loneliness and between melancholy and exhilaration, Stringer completely transports us not only to the Congo — but to the limits of sanity, reason, and experience.
"[Sundaram] has made gold out of...embracing the vulnerability one feels as a story unfolds. He uses moments of his own confusion or ignorance to illuminate the people and places around him." Columbia Journalism Review
"Books by journalists usually keep the focus outward, but Sundaram has more of a novelist's interior sensibility and a talent for describing anxiety and ennui. Readers may be tempted to compare him to Conrad and Naipaul, but he has a strong, unique style all his own." Kirkus Reviews
"Excerpts from his notebooks chronicle personal reflections as he struggles to learn how to report from an unruly land, harboring doubts and misgivings and a feverish desperation to make sense of one of the deadliest places in the world. [It's] a breathtaking look at a troubled nation exploited by greedy forces within and without." Booklist
"The author skillfully captures the smallest details of life in a destitute land, blending the sordid history of Congo with his battle to forge a career in a troubled and forsaken country." Publishers Weekly
"The authenticity is palpable." Library Journal
In the powerful travel-writing tradition of Ryszard Kapuscinski and V.S. Naipaul, a haunting memoir of a dangerous and disorienting year of self-discovery in one of the world's unhappiest countries.
About the Author
Anjan Sundaram is an award-winning journalist who has reported from Africa and the Middle East for The New York Times and the Associated Press. His writing has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Fortune, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Telegraph, The Guardian, the International Herald Tribune, and the Huffington Post. He has been interviewed by the BBC World Service and Radio France Internationale for his analysis of the conflict in Congo. He received a Reuters journalism award in 2006 for his reporting on Pygmy tribes in Congo’s rain forest. He currently lives in Kigali, Rwanda, with his wife.