I found this book when reading Jane Smiley's “13 Ways of Looking at the Novel”. It sounded interesting and I found it in the library the next time I went.
The author, a Polish novelist who wrote in English, wrote this story about an English captain who goes to Africa for an assignment. His ship is destroyed before he arrives and he is forced to travel into the dark continent. He conveys his thoughts about his experiences, his encounter with the inhabitants, both native and colonists.
Even though this is a novella, only 110 pages, so not very long, there is a lot of information crammed into the story, there is no way you can skip even one sentence and you will have lost the plot. He has a special kind of writing style, probably due to the fact that English is not his mother tongue and he still keeps the flow of his native language, as we probably all do somehow.
In any case, he gives us an interesting insight into colonisation, the impact it had on the people in Africa and also on the Europeans who went there. It is a highly interesting study about a part of history that still influences our lives today.
My favourite quote: "The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to ..."