Cover image for Windows on the world : fifty writers, fifty views
Windows on the world : fifty writers, fifty views
Pericoli, Matteo, 1968-
Publication Information:
New York : The Penguin Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
xi, 135 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
"In Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views, architect and artist Matteo Pericoli brilliantly explores this concept alongside fifty of our most beloved writers from across the globe. By pairing drawings of window views with texts that reveal--either physically or metaphorically--what the drawings cannot, Windows on the World offers a perceptual journey through the world as seen through the windows of prominent writers: Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, Daniel Kehlmann in Berlin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Lagos, John Jeremiah Sullivan in Wilmington, North Carolina, Nadine Gordimer in Johannesburg, Xi Chuan in Beijing. Taken together, the views--geography and perspective, location and voice--resonate with and play off each other"--
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PN6071.W56 W56 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PN6071.W56 W56 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Fifty of the world's greatest writers share their views with artist Matteo Pericoli, expanding our own views on place, creativity, and the meaning of home. All of us, at some point in our daily lives, find ourselves looking out the window. We pause in our work, tune out of a conversation, and turn toward the outside. Our eyes simply gaze, without seeing, at a landscape whose familiarity becomes the customary ground for distraction- the usual rooftops, the familiar trees, a distant crane. The way of life for most of us in the twenty-first century means that we spend most of our time indoors, in an urban environment, and our awareness of the outside world comes via, and thanks to, a framed glass hole in the wall. In Windows on the World- Fifty Writers, Fifty Views , architect and artist Matteo Pericoli explores this theme alongside fifty writers from across the globe. By pairing drawings of window views with texts that reveal what the drawings cannot, Windows on the World offers a perceptual journey through the world as seen through the windows of prominent writers- Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, Daniel Kehlmann in Berlin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Lagos, John Jeremiah Sullivan in Wilmington, North Carolina, Nadine Gordimer in Johannesburg. Taken together, the views - geography and perspective, location and voice - resonate with and play off each other. As we discover intimate views from cities around the world, a new kind of map begins to take shape. Windows on the World is a profound and eye-opening look inside the worlds of writers and a reminder that the things we see every day are woven into our deepest selves. Advance Praise for Windows on the World 'Of course, all windows look in as much as they look out. Matteo Pericoli not only allows us this double privilege but gives us a chance to carry those visions with us. He creates, essentially, a literary landscape without walls.' Colum McCann

Author Notes

Graduated from the Polytechnic School of Milan in 1995 and the same year moved to New York City, where he worked as an architect and as an illustrator. His work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Sports Illustrated, Harper's and the Italian national newspaper La Stampa.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In this collection of work, most of which was originally published as a series in the New York Times and the Paris Review, Pericoli (The City out My Window: 63 Views on New York) takes the reader on a journey around the world, capturing the views that inspire and distract 50 of the world's writers, including Orhan Pamuk, Daniel Kehlmann, and Nadine Gordimer. A simple illustration by Pericoli accompanies each of the 50 vignettes that share stories of hope and pain, writing, trees, birds, and cities, and more. The stories are quiet and touching in their simplicity, yet captivating in their ability to look beyond the mundane and capture the beauty of the everyday. Pericoli's richly detailed illustrations serve as a great counterpoint to the text, taking the reader through a window that overlooks one of Cairo's working-class neighborhoods, to a backyard in Albania and to a courtyard in Buenos Aires. VERDICT This is a great read for those interested in the lives of writers, lovers of memoir, and anyone with a touch of wanderlust. A fun conversation starter and introduction to writers from around the world.-Gricel Dominguez, Florida International Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



PREFACE Can you picture John Kennedy Toole, the author of A Confederacy of Dunces ? I can't. Say his name and I see his hero, Ignatius Reilly. How about Willa Cather? What comes to mind isn't a person at all--it's raindrops in New Mexico "exploding with a splash, as if they were hollow and full of air." What did Barbara Pym look like, or Rex Stout, or Boris Pasternak, or the other writers whose paperbacks filled our parents' bedside tables? In most cases we have no idea, because until recently, the author photo was relatively rare. You could sell a million copies and still, to those million readers, you'd be a name without a face. Things are different now. Nearly every first novel comes with a glamour shot, not to mention a publicity campaign on Facebook. The very tweeters have their selfies. We still talk about a writer's "vision," but in practice we have turned the lens around, and turned the seer into something seen. Matteo Pericoli's drawings recall us, in the homeliest, most literal way, to the writer's true business, and the reader's. Each window represents a point of view and a point of origin. Here's what the writer sees when he or she looks up from the computer; here's the native landscape of the writing. If you want an image that will link the creation to its source, Pericoli suggests, this is the image you should reach for. Not the face, but the vision--or as close as we can come. To look out another person's window, from his or her workspace, may tell us nothing about the work, and yet the space--in its particularity, its foreignness, its intimacy--is an irresistible metaphor for the creative mind; the view, a metaphor for the eye. It is crucial that these window views should be rendered in pen and ink, in lines, rather than in photographs (even though Pericoli works from snapshots, dozens per window). In his own writing and teaching, Pericoli likes to stress the kinship between draftsman and writer, starting with the importance of the line. His own line is descriptive, meticulous, suspenseful--one slip of the pen and hours of labor could be lost, or else the "mistake" becomes part of the drawing. Labor, it seems to me, is one of Pericoli's hidden subjects. That is part of the meaning of the hundreds of leaves on a tree, or the windows of a high-rise: They record the work it took to see them, and this work stands as a sort of visual correlative, or illustration, of the work his writers do. Of course, most writers tune out the view from day to day. In the words of Etgar Keret, "When I write, what I see around me is the landscape of my story. I only get to enjoy the real one when I'm done." I think Pericoli has drawn the views of writers at least partly because they are seers as opposed to lookers-- because they blind themselves to their surroundings as a matter of practice. The drawings are addressed, first of all, to them, and their written responses are no small part of the pleasure this book has to offer. Each of these drawings seems to contain a set of instructions: If you were to look out this window--if you really looked--here is how you might begin to put the mess in order. Yet the order Pericoli assigns is warm and forgiving. His omniscience has a human cast. His clapboards wobble in their outlines. He takes obvious delight in the curves of a garden chair, or a jar left out in the rain, or laundry flapping on a clothesline. He prefers messy back lots to what he calls (somewhat disdainfully) "photogenic views." He knows that we are attached to the very sight we overlook, whether it's tract housing in Galway or a government building in Ulaanbaatar. These are the everyday things we see, as it were blindly, because they are part of us. Some of the writers in these pages are household names. Many you will never have heard of, and a few live in places you might have trouble finding on a map. That, it seems to me, is part of the idea behind this book. Here are streets and alleys you won't recognize that someone else calls home and takes for granted; look long enough and they will make your own surroundings more interesting to you. In Pericoli's sympathetic--you might say writerly--acts of attention, the exotic becomes familiar, and the familiar is made visible again. WINDOWS ON THE WORLD MATTEO PERICOLI It has been ten years since the day I paused in front of my Upper West Side window and noticed something. And felt something: an urge to take the view with me. I had looked out that window for seven years, day after day, taking in that particular arrangement of buildings, and now my wife and I were about to move out of our one-bedroom apartment. Without my knowing it, that view had become my most familiar image of the city. It had become mine. And I would never see it again. It is hard to pay close attention to those things that are part of our daily routines. "They will still be there tomorrow." It is often when we are about to lose them or have just lost them that we realize their importance. It struck me as odd that I hadn't paid more attention to my view. That oversight made me wonder how we live and perceive what is outside our windows. About how we live and perceive, period. For me, a window and its view represent a "reset button" of sorts. An instant, like the blinking of an eye, when I allow my brain and my thoughts to pause by wordlessly wandering outdoors, through the glass, with no obligation to analyze and, so to speak, to report back to my conscious self. My eyes simply gaze, without seeing, at a landscape whose subconscious familiarity allows for distraction: the usual rooftops, the well-known moldings, the nearby courtyard, a distant hill. I look passively through the sheet of glass, which is a point both of contact and of separation between me and the world. So, on that day in 2004, I finally paid attention to my window view. I tried photographing it but soon realized that the photos didn't work. They were not able to convey my view, but simply what was outside the window. And so I drew it, frame and all, on a large sheet of brown wrapping paper using pencils and oil pastels, and noticed for the first time the quantity of things I didn't know that I had been looking at for so long. Where had they been hiding in my brain? Since then, I've spent years drawing window views. Between 2004 and 2008, while I was doing research for a book on New York City, I came to realize that writers often find themselves in a similar position to mine: Stuck at a desk for hours on end, they either position themselves near a window in order to take in as much as possible, or they consciously choose to protect themselves from it. And when I would ask writers to describe their views, something extraordinary happened: All the elements that I had been able to capture in my drawings were complemented (or, perhaps, even augmented) by their words. This was the simple premise of the "Windows on the World" series, which started in 2010 in the New York Times and continued in the Paris Review Daily: drawings of writers' window views from around the world accompanied by their texts--lines and words united by a physical point of view. The fifty drawings in this book (some never published before) offer an observational platform, an "opening," you could say, a place to rest and meditate during a fifty-leg journey around the world. Excerpted from Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views by Matteo Pericoli All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Lorin SteinMasteo Pericoli
Prefacep. ix
Windows on the Worldp. 1
Orhan Pamuk and Istanbul, Turkeyp. 4
Etgar Keret and Tel Aviv, Israelp. 6
Joumana Haddad and Jounieh, Lebanonp. 9
Alaa Al Aswany and Cairo, Egyptp. 13
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Lagos Lebanonp. 9
Rotimi Babatunde and Ibadan, Nigeriap. 19
Binyavanga Wainaina and Nairobi, Kenyap. 22
Nuruddin Farah and Mogadishu Somaliap. 25
Lauri Kubuitsile and Mahalapye, Botswanap. 26
Nadine Gordimer and Johannesburgm South Africap. 30
Lidija Dimkovska and Skopje, Macedoniap. 32
Luljeta Lleshanaku and Kruja, Albaniap. 34
Taiye Selasi and Rome, Italyp. 36
Tim Parks and Milan, Italyp. 38
Daniel Kehlmann and Berlin, Germanyp. 40
Christine Angot and Paris, Francep. 42
Jon McGregor and Nottingham, United Kingdomp. 48
Andrea Levy and London, United Kingdomp. 48
Mike McCormack and Galway, Irelandp. 50
Leila Aboulela and Aberdeen, United Kingdomp. 52
Andri Snær Magnason and Reykjavik Icelandp. 54
Karl Ove Knausgaard and Glemmingebro, Swedenp. 57
Nastya Denisova and St. Petersburg, Russiap. 61
G. Mend-Ooyo and Ulaanbaatar, Mongoliap. 64
Harris Khalique and Islamabad, Pakistanp. 66
Rana Dasgupta and Noew Delhi, Indiap. 68
Xi Chuan and Beljing, Chinap. 70
Emma Larkin and Bangkok, Thailandp. 72
Ryu Murakami and Tokyo, Japanp. 74
Andrea Hirata and Jakarta, Indonesiap. 76
Richard Flanagan and Bruny Island, Australiap. 79
Ceridwen Dovey and Sydney, Australiap. 83
Rebecca Walker and Maui, Hawaii, United States of Americap. 86
Marina Endicott and Edmonton, Albaerta, Canadap. 88
Sheila Heti and Toronto, Ontario, Canadap. 90
Elmore Leonard and Bloomfield Village, Michigan United States of Americap. 92
Geraldine Brooks and West Tisbury Massachusetts, United States of Americap. 94
Barry Yourgrau and Queens, New York United States of Americap. 96
Teju Cole and Brooklyn, New York, United Stares of Americap. 98
Lysley Tenorio and New York City, New York, United States of Americap. 100
John Jeremiah Sullivan and Wilmington, North Carolina, United States of Americap. 102
Edwidge Danticat and Miami, Florida, United State of Americap. 104
T. C Boyle and Montecito, California, United States of Americap. 105
Michelle Huneven and Altadena, California, United States of Americap. 109
Francisco Goldman and Mexico City, Mexicop. 113
Rodrigo Rey Rosa and Guatemala City, Guatemalap. 117
Alejandro Zambra and Santiago, Chilep. 120
Tatiana Salem Levy and Rio de Janeiro, Brazilp. 122
Daniel Galera and Porto Alegre, Brazilp. 124
Maria Kodama and Buenos Aires, Argentinep. 126
Contributorsp. 129
Acknowledgmentsp. 130