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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 is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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