Blind Spot (Hardcover)

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By Teju Cole, Siri Hustvedt (Foreword by)
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Staff Reviews

Part photography study, part personal essay and memoir, Teju Cole’s latest work captures brief snapshots of life in text and photo and examines how people see and unsee (through either willfulness or true ignorance) the world. His stories are alluring and jarring, highlighting how different seeing is from understanding. His vignettes ask readers to hold the text that precedes the images in their mind and he plays with words and phrases in a way that illuminates our own blind spots. Readers wanting a book to shake them from complacency would do well to grab this one. -Justus

— From Spring Booknotes 2017


In this innovative synthesis of words and images, the award-winning author of Open City and photography critic for The New York Times Magazine combines two of his great passions.

"To look is to see only a fraction of what one is looking at. Even in the most vigilant eye, there is a blind spot. What is missing?"

When it comes to Teju Cole, the unexpected is not unfamiliar: He's an acclaimed novelist, an influential essayist, and an internationally exhibited photographer. In Blind Spot, readers follow Cole's inimitable artistic vision into the visual realm as he continues to refine the voice, eye, and intellectual obsessions that earned him such acclaim for Open City.

Here, journey through more than 150 of Cole's full-color, original photos, each accompanied by his lyrical and evocative prose, forming a multimedia diary of years of near-constant travel: from a park in Berlin to a mountain range in Switzerland, a church exterior in Lagos to a parking lot in Brooklyn; landscapes, beautiful or quotidian, that inspire Cole's memories, fantasies, and introspections. Ships in Capri remind him of the work of writers from Homer to Edna O'Brien; a hotel room in Wannsee brings back a disturbing dream about a friend's death; a home in Tivoli evokes a transformative period of semi-blindness, after which "the photography changed. . . . The looking changed."

As exquisitely wrought as the work of Anne Carson or Chris Marker, Blind Spot is a testament to the art of seeing by one of the most powerful and original voices in contemporary literature.

Advance praise for Blind Spot

" Teju] Cole's fiction and essays are incredible, unexpected, and beautiful; he's also a spectacular photographer. His first collection of photographs, each image accompanied by his stunning prose, promises to show us the world through his eyes, which always seem to see things in a brilliant new light."--Lisa Lucas, National Book Foundation

"Once you get a taste of Cole's] writing, you can quickly (and hungrily) burn through what's available. Thankfully, Blind Spot will indulge the senses by combining both of Cole's loves in this . . . full-color collection of Cole's photos, accompanied by his prose."--The Week

"Many artists have felt the lure of juxtaposing photographs and text, but few have succeeded as well as Teju Cole. He approaches this problem with an understanding of the limitations and glories of each medium."--Stephen Shore, author of Uncommon Places

"Memoir meets museum catalog . . . A strange, cerebral, and very beautiful journey."--Kirkus Reviews

"This ambitious study deserves a spot on the shelf next to Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida and Susan Sontag's On Photography."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for Teju Cole

"The places Teju Cole] can go, you feel, are just about limitless."--The New York Times

" Cole is] one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary writing."--LA Times

"There's almost no subject Cole can't come at from a startling angle."--The Boston Globe

"In following Cole's] wanderings, I have often a sense of beholding something more delicate . . . but also more ordinary and more heartbreaking than the eye can typically bear. His] photographs . . . insist on intimacy, transparency, confrontation."--Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go

About the Author

Teju Cole is the photography critic for The New York Times Magazine. His work has been exhibited in India, Iceland, and the United States, and was the subject of a solo exhibition in Italy in 2016. He is the author of the essay collection, Known and Strange Things, as well as the novels Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City, the latter of which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York City Book Award, and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His photography column at The New York Times Magazine was a finalist for a 2016 National Magazine Award, and he is the winner of the 2016 Focus Award for excellence in photographic writing.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780399591075
ISBN-10: 0399591079
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English