The Nine Books that inspired me to write (9 of 9) # 9 Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

Imperium (1993)

Kapuscinski is a hero of mine, Imperium isn't a novel, but a biography of growing up under Moscow Rule and a series of essays and observations. Kapuscinski traveled around the satellite countries of the USSR post collapse of the Berlin Wall. It is the last book of the the 9 books that inspired me to write.

Imperium is a travelogue, reportage but more than that; Kapuscinski takes far flung countries and weaves their beauty into the narrative.He makes these long words on the new Atlas into places and races with proud traditions, cultures and heritage that, despite being under Soviet rule, thrived.

As I was drafting GET LENIN, (which took nearly 4 years to get published) I had Imperium always to hand. His descriptions of Moscow in the 1930's and 40's helped shape the world I was building for the story - two chapters in Imperium are dog-eared and heavily annotated - Kolyma, Fog and more - this chapter explores the most infamous gulag in Soviet history, it is harrowing and disturbing &
We look, we cry - which through several passages, explores Armenia and its long connection to the Coptic faith and Kapuscinski's writing soars. 

I wanted authentic character names, names that rang true and made the reader believe. Kolyma, Fog and more gave me the most complex character in the Eva series outside of Eva herself, NKVD Officer, Kravchenko. He's the man charged with getting Lenin's corpse out of Moscow and to the safety of the Ural Mountains. Only to be ambushed, and forced to work with a German unit stranded behind Russian lines to get the embalmed Lenin back. 

His failure has devasting consequences and shapes his character to the rest of the series.

Imperium is more than just a snapshot of history, it is a humane, wry and at times beautiful book. For a perfect piece of writing, his description of Armenian brandy aged in oak casks over a long period of time, is worth reading over and over again. 


I hope you enjoyed these 9 books and the blogs about them. Please feel free to comment or to post the book that inspire you.

My latest novel, A KIND OF DROWNING is out now!







Imperium sounds like my kind of book.