The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight

Penguin Pr. Jul. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781984881427. $29. MEMOIR
When Leland (an editor at The Believer magazine) was a teenager, he was diagnosed with an untreatable case of retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic eye conditions that affect the retina. He learned that his sight would deteriorate as he aged; eventually, he would be blind. In this debut book, Leland explores the legends and metaphors of blindness in history, literature, myth and art and interweaves his firsthand experiences with the accounts of others about topics such as reading braille, using audio descriptions to enjoy media, and learning to use a cane. Discussions of representation and advocacy by people who experience blindness are paired with issues of employment, government assistance, and access to education. Leland’s aim, as he moves through his own emotions of uncertainty and doubt to curiosity and pride, is to show the wide variety of experiences of blindness.
VERDICT This informative and engaging memoir will appeal to readers who like to be entertained as they broaden their awareness of disability and others’ lives.
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