Commentary
5:00 am
Mon February 10, 2014

'Stringer' Is A Powerful And Absorbing Debut

Let me start by saying that my friend who’s been in the travel business for more than 50 years has never been asked to arrange a trip to the Congo.

And when Anthony Bourdain closed his “Parts Unknown” program featuring his trip down the Congo River he said, “I had always wanted to go to the Congo, and now I have.” No hint of his signature sarcasm or rambunctiousness.

The tumultuous history of the Congo is fraught with power at its most corrupt, capitalism in its greediest form and human survival at its most desperate. Anjan Sundaram, who lives in Kigali, Rwanda, knew nothing of journalism or the Congo when he traveled there to write about the country and pursue a career in journalism. His debut, Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey is the result of a year-and-a-half occupation.

Sundaram, on the verge of graduate studies in mathematics at Yale, gives in to his primordial desire to write. After an influential conversation with a friend, he is on the way to the Congo to become a freelance journalist-- the most unstable job in the business.

Living in a slum, Sundaram is robbed, contracts malaria and sees firsthand the undignified crushing of the human soul. It is his naiveté that gets him through, and his powerful and introspective writing that keeps us reading.

Stringer is reportage in its most excellent form: immediate, informative and riveting.

Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo

By Anjan Sundaram