In Golden Apple of the Sun, Teju Cole Turns His Kitchen into Art

The text and photographic sequences are in the still life tradition of Chardin, Cezanne, and the Dutch masters, as well as the contemporary photographers Laura Letinsky and Jan Groover.
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Golden Apple of the Sun by Teju Cole.

Photo Credit: Golden Apple of the Sun by Teju Cole.

Teju Cole’s new book, Golden Apple of the Sun, is forthcoming this July from MACK, an independent publisher of arts and photographs based in London.

A photobook, 136 pages long, Golden Apple of the Sun contains photographs of Cole’s kitchen counter in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which he took every day for five weeks, “[w]orking in the still life tradition of Chardin, Cezanne, and the Dutch masters, as well as such contemporary photographers as Laura Letinsky and Jan Groover,” his publisher says.

Here is more descrption:

Unlike those illustrious forbears, Cole left his arrangements entirely to chance, “the bowls and plates moving in their unpredictable constellations.” What emerges is a surprising portrait, across time, of one kitchen counter in one home at a time of social, cultural, and political upheaval.

The text and photographic sequences are interspersed with an anonymous handwritten eighteenth century cookbook from Cambridge. 

Golden Apple of the Sun is a luminous and humane work, presented with the formal boldness and oblique intelligence we have come to expect from Teju Cole.

Cole began to take these photographs in the fall of 2020, days leading up to the 3 November 2020 US elections. In this book, they are accompanied by a number of long essays in which the writer examines a variety of preoccupations, among them poetry, hunger, fasting, mourning, and the history of photography. 

Teju Cole by Teju Cole.
Teju Cole by Teju Cole.

The American photographer Stephen Shore calls it a success, writing that “[m]any artists have felt the lure of juxtaposing photographs and text, but few have succeeded as well as Teju Cole.”

Currently the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard, Teju Cole was the New York Times Magazine photography critic until 2019, a post he held from 2015. His books include the novel Open City, the novella Every Day Is for the Thief, the essay collection Known and Strange Things, and Blind Spot, a hybrid book of photography and text.

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“It’s different from Blind Spot but it has as much text as Blind Spot,” Teju Cole told OPEN COUNTRY MAG editor Otosirieze Obi-Young. “I’m very excited about that.”

Pre-order Golden Apple of the Sun here.

Ernest Ogunyemi
Ernest Ogunyemi
Ernest O. Ògunyemi is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Joyland, Tinderbox, Sierra Nevada Review, Journal Nine, The Indianapolis Review, Down River Road, Capsule Stories, No Tokens, The West Review, The Dark Magazine, Mud Season Review, Isele, and in the anthology 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry III. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets Anthology.

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