A witty, winning, and revelatory personal narrative of the author’s transition from sightedness to blindness and his quest to learn about blindness as a rich culture all its own

One of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Books of 2023.

Product Code: 9176
ISBN: 9781984881427
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Penguin Press
Pages: 368
Published Date: 07/18/2023
Availability:In stock
Price: $29.00

One of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Books of 2023.

We meet Andrew Leland as he’s suspended in the liminal state of the soon-to-be blind: he’s midway through his life with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that ushers those who live with it from sightedness to blindness over years, even decades. He grew up with full vision, but starting in his teenage years, his sight began to degrade from the outside in, such that he now sees the world as if through a narrow tube. Soon—but without knowing exactly when—he will likely have no vision left.

Full of apprehension but also dogged curiosity, Leland embarks on a sweeping exploration of the state of being that awaits him: not only the physical experience of blindness but also its language, politics, and customs. He negotiates his changing relationships with his wife and son, and with his own sense of self, as he moves from his mainstream, “typical” life to one with a disability. Part memoir, part historical and cultural investigation, The Country of the Blind represents Leland’s determination not to merely survive this transition but to grow from it—to seek out and revel in that which makes blindness enlightening.

Thought-provoking and brimming with warmth and humor, The Country of the Blind is a deeply personal and intellectually exhilarating tour of a way of being that most of us have never paused to consider—and from which we have much to learn.

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Author’s Note
Introduction: The End Begins

Part I
Phantom Limp
1. Seeing Stars
2. National Blindness
3. Blinded by Definition

Part II
The Lost World
4. The Male Gaze
5. Camera Obscura
6. The Library of Babel
7. The Makers

Part III
Structured Discovery
8. Against Blindness
9. Lady Justice
10. Half Smiling

Conclusion: Endgame
Notes on Capitalization and Sources and Image Descriptions

“I’ll cut to the chase—this is the best book I’ve read this year and also one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. No descriptor feels capacious enough: an intellectually rigorous memoir, a moving cultural history, a brilliant study of blindness, disability, and adaptation. My love and admiration for this book know no bounds, and I’m beyond excited for the new era in disability writing that its publication portends.” —Sophia M. Stewart, The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of 2023

“Andrew Leland writes about his own gradual blindness using cultural histories and the politics of disability to upend what we assumed we knew. It’s one of the year’s best.” —The Chicago Tribune, “52 Books for Summer 2023”

“A moving and fascinating account of the blind community—its politics, customs, and pioneers—and a personal exploration of making a sometimes frightening, sometimes invigorating life transition as a writer, husband, and father. A brilliant investigative memoir written with humor and heart.”—Lit Hub

“Leland delivers a masterful exploration of disability in his brilliant debut . . . Enriched by its sparkling prose, this is an extraordinary and intellectually rigorous account of adapting to change.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Leland is . . . part of a new vanguard of writers who interrogate disability with refreshing intellectual rigor, and this book-length study of blindness masterfully melds histories both personal and cultural.” —Publishers Weekly, Summer Reads preview

“Leland provides both fascinating capsule histories of the topics he’s pondering, as with a survey of the disability rights movement, and searching glimpses into his own existential struggle to understand what it means for him to be blind . . . When the author gets personal, he does so with such honesty and vulnerability that by the end, readers will understand when he concludes, ‘The process of retinal degeneration has turned out to be one of the most generative experiences of my life’ . . . Emotional but never sentimental, this quest for insight delivers for its readers.” —Kirkus

“This informative and engaging memoir will appeal to readers who like to be entertained as they broaden their awareness of disability and others’ lives.” —Library Journal

“Leland writes with astounding humor and humility about ability, disability, the confusions between them, the confusions of middle age, marriage, and parenthood, language in all its beauty and bias, and more to the n-th power. Approaching what he calls the end of sight, he has summoned up that higher vision.” —Joshua Cohen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Netanyahus

In The Country of the Blind, Andrew Leland tells the story of his gradual transition into the blindness community with sensitivity and insight. He vividly describes his new sensory perceptions and emotions and outlines controversies about the training of the blind. His experiences will resonate powerfully with those in the autism community and beyond. A valuable book.” —Temple Grandin, author of Visual Thinking

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