“I translate it in my head as ‘far away from here’, the longing to be elsewhere.”

In a recent interview with Granta, Teju Cole discusses his new book of photographs, Fernweh (literally, ‘far-woe’). Source: Granta Magazine.


“Look, pay attention to the small things in the world, speak the truth as best as you can”

— Teju Cole

zadiesmith

“Zadie Smith has been a vital literary voice since her first novel, White Teeth, became an instant bestseller. [In The Observer,] she answers questions from famous fans, including Teju Cole, Philip Pullman and Sharmaine Lovegrove, and a selection of our readers” — The Observer

Former American novelist reveals what he’s been doing since giving up writing back in 2010.
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Philip Roth

In an engaging email interview conducted by Charles McGrath of The New York Times, former American novelist Philip Roth reveals what he’s been doing since giving up writing back in 2010. He is in good health, and now spends most of his time living in his Upper West Side apartment in New York, meeting with friends and attending concerts — the Connecticut home where he wrote his novels remains unoccupied until the summer months. He has spent the past few years working closely with an official biographer, Blake Bailey, and supervising the final volume of the Library of America edition of his work.

The retired writer has also been watching the major developments unfolding across American culture. Roth identifies the current political moment in America as unprecedented in its history, and doesn’t mince words when describing the current President of the United States: he calls him a “massive fraud” who is “devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac”. Roth also says that he was unsurprised by the abuses of power revealed in the wake of the MeToo movement. (more…)

“It’s getting closer. This aspect of my work — writing for the public and making images — has been going on for about a dozen years, and in that time I’ve understood more and more that all of it is of a piece. I used to think they were really separate. Now I realize that looking at the world, making images, writing about images, writing about things that are not images, all of it is an attempt to testify to having been here and seen certain things, having looked at the world with a kind eye but an eye that is not ignoring questions of justice and history. And that’s why Blind Spot is a book of text and images.”

— Teju Cole, qtd. in The Millions

RO Kwon (The Guardian) on Blind Spot, the new work by writer, art historian, and photographer Teju Cole:

“I was initially drawn to Blind Spot less for its 150-plus photos from dozens of countries than for its text, the short paragraph or two – at times, just a couple of sentences – accompanying each image. […] During his travels, he used his camera as an extension of his memory. ‘The images are a tourist’s pictures,’ he says, but it wasn’t until he ‘began to match words to these interconnected images’ that this book came to life.”

(more…)

As spring arrives in Cardiff, I divide my time between teaching responsibilities and reading. This week marks the final week of semester before Easter break. In my spare time, I am reading Marilynne Robinson‘s 2005 novel, Gilead. And in light of Teju Cole‘s essay collection, Known and Strange Things, I have have also been keen to return to his breakthrough novel, Open City.

Over the weekend, I watched an interesting documentary on the life and work of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The film was produced for BBC’s Horizon series back in 1989, and in just under 49 minutes manages to mount an engaging profile of the twentieth-century thinker. The film includes interviews, anecdotes, and rare photographs of the people and places connected to the philosopher’s life. All in all, it’s a good general primer. For those interested in finding out more about Wittgenstein’s life, Ray Monk‘s excellent biography, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius, is the place to go.

‪In his recent collection of essays, Known and Strange Things, Nigerian-American writer and photographer Teju Cole reflects on the poetry of Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer: “the strongest associations he brings to mind are the music of Arvo Pärt and the photographs of Saul Leiter.”