I've just returned from five days in Brooklyn, celebrating the launch of the latest book by my friend Teju Cole, a collection of essays called Known and Strange Things. When you read it, which I certainly hope you will, along with essays from the New Yorker and New York Times you'll see some words that appeared first here at The Cassandra Pages -- a tribute both to Teju's generosity and our long friendship, which has at times allowed him to freely publish work here that didn't fit in more mainstream journals.
That generosity was also manifest on Monday night, when, during the course of a party in honor of his own book, Teju invited me and two other contributors to Documentum 2: Pictures and Words, Wah-Ming Chang and Emily Johnson, to hold a New York mini-launch of the issue, presenting our work along with his, as one of the guest-curators of the issue. Our photography was projected on a large screen in the garden as we each read from our pages, and the guests formed an attentive and appreciative audience. It was a special pleasure for me to read my own work, because as a publisher I'm usually the one organizing events, or encouraging and promoting other people's writing -- probably I should do it more often.
Jonathan and I had helped during the day to get the venue ready for the party, and one of our tasks - most happily accepted - was to do the flower arrangements. Fortunately the food was catered, and it was an extremely delicious Palestinian feast. As it turned out, there was a small group of Middle Easterners present, who sort of "found" each other during the course of the evening - people from Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, along with Africans and African-Americans, Indians, and a few boring white Americans like myself -- it was great, and so was the music, selected by D.J. Teju himself.
I'll have more to say about the trip and about Teju's book later, but for now, I wanted to share these photographs with you. It was wonderful to be in Brooklyn, and in New York City, and -- most of all -- to be with dear friends.