A selection of images from the collection

Teju Cole, that master of all intellectual trades, has a new book out. An unusual book.

Even though Cole has had a successful career as a photographer, he is most widely known for his literary works. But with this new book, these two somewhat warring vocations unite in a visual art project that The Guardian is calling “a luminous book” and the San Fransisco Chronicle, “a beautifully wrought and finely blended mixture of visual and narrative art.”

The book is titled Blind Spot. It contains a selection of Cole’s photographs. But instead of the usual descriptive caption that accompanies a typical coffee table photo-book, each image in Blind Spot is accompanied by a short passage or a vignette written in Cole’s signature dense and elusive style.

Cole’s life as a writer and a public intellectual involves a lot of travel, during which he takes pictures. Over 150 of these photographs capturing locations as diverse as Brooklyn, Lagos and Berlin are assembled in the collection. The photographs are subtle, bare, and understated. They capture the undramatic, micro-moments of everyday life. Cole thinks of Blind Spot as a multi-media diary—a deeply personal account of space and place that blurs the traditional distinction between the literary text and photography as two completely different aesthetic modes.

Image by Jarrett Fuller via  jarretfuller.blog.

A fascinating back story to the book’s title, Blind Spot, is that, in 2011, Cole suffered a temporary spell of blindness. This experience led to an interest in blindness as a conceptual and aesthetic concern.

The collection of image affords readers a gateway into Cole’s visual universe. It is the closest readers will come to seeing the way Cole sees—through a strange synthesis of lyrical writing and fragmentary images.

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Start reading Blind Spot HERE. (FYI: those who are concerned about breaking bank to pay the 27 dollar price tag should consider the kindle version which comes at almost half the price of the print version.)

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Facebook link image by Lidudumalingani via Instagram.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young’s writing has been shortlisted for the 2016 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, the 2017 Gerald Kraak Award, and nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. His fiction has appeared in Transition (“A Tenderer Blessing,” 2015), The Threepenny Review (“Mulumba,” 2016), and Pride and Prejudice: African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality (“You Sing of a Longing,” 2017), an anthology of The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation. His work further appears in Interdisciplinary Academic Essays, Africa in Dialogue, and Brittle Paper, where he is submissions editor. He is the editor of the Art Naija Series: a sequence of concept-based e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness. The first anthology, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (Oct., 2016) focuses on cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June, 2017) focuses on professions. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and currently teaches English at another Nigerian university. When bored, he blogs pop culture at naijakulture.blogspot.com or just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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