Teju Cole

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Teju Cole
TejuCole01(86th&Lexington10 7 13).JPG
Born Obayemi Babajide Adetokunbo Onafuwa
(1975-06-27) June 27, 1975 (age 39)
Michigan, USA
Occupation Novelist, Photographer
Notable works Open City
Notable awards 2012 PEN/Hemingway Award
2012 New York City Book Award for Fiction 2013 International Literature Award

Teju Cole (born June 27, 1975) is a Nigerian-American writer, photographer, and art historian.[1]

Biography and work[edit]

Teju Cole was born in the United States to Nigerian parents, raised in Nigeria, moved back to the United States at the age of 17 and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of two books, a novella, Every Day is for the Thief (Nigeria: Cassava Republic, 2007; New York: Random House, 2014; London: Faber, 2014),[2][3] and a novel, Open City[4] (New York: Random House, 2012; London: Faber, 2012). He is currently the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.[5] From June to November 2014 he was 'writer in residence' of the Literaturhaus Zurich and the PWG Foundation in Zurich. Cole is a regular contributor to publications including The New York Times, Qarrtsiluni, Granta, The New Yorker, Transition, The New Inquiry, and A Public Space. He is currently at work on a book-length non-fiction narrative of Lagos, and on "Small Fates".[6]

Open City[edit]

Written in 2011, the novel focuses on "Nigerian immigrant Julius, a young graduate student studying psychiatry in New York City, has recently broken up with his girlfriend and spends most of his time dreamily walking around Manhattan. The majority of Open City centers on Julius’ inner thoughts as he rambles throughout the city, painting scenes of both what occurs around him and past events that he can’t help but dwell on. Ostensibly in search of his grandmother, Julius spends a number of weeks in Belgium, where he has an unplanned one-night stand and makes some interesting friends. Along the way, he meets many people and often has long discussions with them about philosophy and politics. He seems to welcome these conversations. Upon returning to New York, he meets a young Nigerian woman who profoundly changes the way he sees himself."[7]

Open City was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Fiction, and was the winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award (2012) for a distinguished first book of fiction.[8][9] The German-language translation by Christine Richter-Nilsson won the International Literature Award (2013).[10][11] The novel was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize (2012),[12] was a finalist for The Morning News Tournament of Books (2012),[13] and was included in Time magazine's "Best Books of the Year" (2011).[14]

Open City was translated into ten languages and has received generally positive reviews from literary critics. James Wood in The New Yorker calls it a "beautiful, subtle, and, finally, original novel".[4] According to The New York Times, "the novel’s importance lies in its honesty."[15] The Independent characterizes Open City as "hypnotic", "transfixing", and a "striking debut" for Cole,[16] while Time referred to the novel as "a profoundly original work, intellectually stimulating and possessing of a style both engaging and seductive."[14]


  1. ^ Bio. Teju Cole. Retrieved on 2012-03-06.
  2. ^ Books. Teju Cole.
  3. ^ Every Day is for the Thief page at Cassava Republic.
  4. ^ a b Wood, James (28 February 2011). "The Arrival of Enigmas". New Yorker. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Academics, Faculty". Bard College. Retrieved 26 Dec 2011. 
  6. ^ "Small Fates", March 2011. Teju Cole.
  7. ^ Open City: A Novel (9780812980097): Teju Cole: Books. Amazon.com. Retrieved on 2012-03-06.
  8. ^ "Teju Cole's mesmerizing 'Open City' up for the NBCC fiction award". cleveland.com (2011-11-01). Retrieved on 2012-03-06.
  9. ^ "Bard College Writer in Residence Teju Cole Wins 2012 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award". Bard College.
  10. ^ Silke Bartlick (2 May 2013). "Germany's International Literature Award honors world's best books". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ Aygül Cizmecioglu (31 May 2013). "German literature prize for Teju Cole's debut NYC novel". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  12. ^ Allison Flood (29 May 2012). "2012 Ondaatje prize 2012 goes to debut novel by Rahul Bhattacharya". The Guardian. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  13. ^ Duncan Murrell (March 30, 2012). "The Sisters Brothers v. Open City". The Morning News. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Radhika Jones (December 7, 2011). "Top 10 Fiction Books". Time. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  15. ^ Miguel Syjuco, "These Crowded Streets", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2012-03-08.
  16. ^ Boyd Tonkin, "Open City, By Teju Cole", The Independent. Retrieved on 2012-03-08.

External links[edit]