Tag Archives: Teju Cole

Dear John Berger, ‘Here Is Where We Meet’ Changed My Life – Teju Cole

bergerJohn Berger, acclaimed art critic and author of Ways of Seeing dies aged 90. In an interview with Mens’s Journal, Teju Cole disclosed that his book, ‘Here is where we meet’ greatly influenced his writing. “It was pretty life-changing for me,” he says. He also liked the way Berger could write about a wide range of things. Berger could write about literature, politics, and art with equal is ease and beauty. Cole said that over the years he’d found it helpful to think of Berger as a “specialist in all styles”—a tag line, which Cole says he came across in West African barbershops sign board. Here are the excerpts from his interview –

“Let me suggest a book called Here Is Where We Meet. It’s by a writer called John Berger. It was pretty life-changing for me. It’s a collection of short stories; it has eight and a half short stories. They’re all based on life, but they’re all fiction. It’s the way that he handles that fictionality that really affected my writing.”

“The book was first published in 2005, but I’ve been reading Berger since the late ’90s. I really like his work. He’s a wonderful art critic; he writes about politics, and he also writes fiction. I was already very much a fan of his work, so when this book came out, I was going to get it anyway. So I probably got it around 2006 or thereabouts, or maybe right after it came out in 2005.”

“I don’t see the sense of dividing those things, and I always admired John Berger’s willingness to get his hands dirty, and yet to not seem as though he was getting his hands dirty. Of course, it’s all propelled by his prose, and his ability to write extremely beautiful and moving English, even when he’s talking about really tough things. His work is visceral, it’s engaged, it’s political, it’s very fierce. But while you’re reading it, the impression you have is someone whose words are very, very well-chosen. To work with a very wide range of material was always something natural to me, and [it’s] very encouraging to see other writers who were able to do it successfully. There’s a sign outside West African barber shops that says, “Specialists in All Styles.” Rather than the dismissive “jack of all trades,” as we have in the English language, I like this idea of “specialist in all styles.”

Click here for the full Interview………