The Country of the Blind – Andrew Leland

The Pulse

17-02-2024 • 27分

Joeita speaks to Andrew Leland about his book "The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight"


  • “What is Blindness?” - Opening Remarks (00:00)
  • Introducing Andrew Leland, Author of “The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight” (01:14)
  • About H.G. Wells’ “The Country of the Blind” Short Story (01:57)
  • Memoir Writing Process (04:12)
  • Curiosity in Exploring Vision Loss (06:30)
  • Balancing Intellectualizing Blindness & the Emotional Reality of Blind People (09:30)
  • Deciding Where to Draw the Line (12:16)
  • Blindness & the Male Gaze (15:05)
  • Culture of Blindness (17:38)
  • Surprises, Revelations & Conclusions (20:57)
  • Lingering Questions & Tensions (23:31)
  • Show Close (26:02)

Guest Bio:

Andrew Leland’s writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s Quarterly, and The San Francisco Chronicle, among other outlets. From 2013-2019, he hosted and produced The Organist, an arts and culture podcast, for KCRW; he has also produced pieces for Radiolab and 99 Percent Invisible. He has been an editor at The Believer since 2003. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and son.

About The Country of the Blind


A witty, winning, and revelatory personal narrative of the author’s transition from sightedness to blindness and his quest to learn about blindness as a rich culture all its own

“After reading Andrew Leland’s memoir, The Country of the Blind, you will look at the English language differently . . . Leland rigorously explores the disability’s most troubling corners . . . A wonderful cross-disciplinary wander.” The New York Times Book Review

We meet Andrew Leland as he’s suspended in the liminal state of the soon-to-be blind: he’s midway through his life with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that ushers those who live with it from sightedness to blindness over years, even decades. He grew up with full vision, but starting in his teenage years, his sight began to degrade from the outside in, such that he now sees the world as if through a narrow tube. Soon—but without knowing exactly when—he will likely have no vision left.

Full of apprehension but also dogged curiosity, Leland embarks on a sweeping exploration of the state of being that awaits him: not only the physical experience of blindness but also its language, politics, and customs. He negotiates his changing relationships with his wife and son, and with his own sense of self, as he moves from his mainstream, “typical” life to one with a disability. Part memoir, part historical and cultural investigation, The Country of the Blind represents Leland’s determination not to merely survive this transition but to grow from it—to seek out and revel in that which makes blindness enlightening.

Thought-provoking and brimming with warmth and humor, The Country of the Blind is a deeply personal and intellectually exhilarating tour of a way of being that most of us have never paused to consider—and from which we have much to learn.

Related Links:

NPR Article - As a writer slowly loses his sight, he embraces other kinds of perception

Blindness isn't a tragic binary — it's a rich spectrum (Ted Talk, July 2023)

Andrew Leland Website:

The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight (Wikipedia)

About The Pulse

On The Pulse, host Joeita Gupta brings us closer to issues impacting the disability community across Canada.

Joeita Gupta has nurtured a life-long dream to work in radio! She's blind, moved to Toronto in 2004 and got her start in radio at CKLN, 88.1 FM in Toronto. A former co-host of AMI-audio's Live from Studio 5, Joeita also works full-time at a nonprofit in Toronto, specializing in housing/tenant rights.

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