‘I am writing this note while you’re still asleep. It’s still early enough that I can open the windows in my room. By the time you read this, I’ll be at work. Please pardon the strange formality of writing to you when I could just have said to you in person what I want to say. But since I have failed to say it, it is reasonable to conclude that I am having some difficulty speaking.’
Bringing together a sequence of subtle and disquieting photographs with a dozen compact short stories, Pharmakon is a surprising new work from the singular mind of Teju Cole. The photographs were taken across the globe and extend the oblique point of view he developed in Fernweh (2020). Interspersed among the images are texts that emerge like intimate signals from our age of crisis, mining further the exquisite linguistic control that characterizes Cole’s novels Open City (2011) and Tremor (2023). The result is a work of strange beauty that startles and consoles in equal measure.