reviews

7-Capri

 

KNOWN AND STRANGE THINGS

“The world belongs to Cole and is thornily and gloriously allied with his curiosity and his personhood…History—literary, political, social or personal—offers us a vast archive of knowledge that both influences and challenges the definitions we construct for ourselves. On every level of engagement and critique, ‘Known and Strange Things’ is an essential and scintillating journey.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“In this dazzlingly wide-ranging collection, [Cole] draws an insightful map of literal and metaphoric inter-connections.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“[Cole] ranges over his interests with voracious keenness, laser-sharp prose, an open heart and a clear eye… These essays demonstrate the transformative power of communion with gifted and committed master craftsmen and women who have given, and continue to give, the very best of themselves, and thus raise their achievement from the merely competent to the sublime.”
—The Guardian

“ There’s almost no subject Cole can’t come at from a startling angle.”
—The Boston Globe

“Essays that call to mind what Walter Benjamin did in his Illuminations: taking cultural works and applying them critically and politically to the now…The hope that Cole infuses in his prose is mirrored with poetically entrancing sentences…A bold, honest, and controversially necessary read.”

—Kirkus (starred review)

“Again and again in this gathering of more than forty pieces, [Teju] Cole demonstrates an appealing blend of erudition and affability—a quality that makes him unique as an essayist…An understated and lyrical stylist, Cole combines the rigor of a critic with the curiosity of Everyman. ‘We are creatures of private conventions,’ he writes. ‘But we are also looking for ways to enlarge our coasts.’ This collection provides a way.”

—BookPage

“Cole is a literary performance artist, his words meticulously chosen and deployed with elegance and force. To read, see, and travel with him is to be changed by the questions that challenge him.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Picture a kaleidoscope: each shining component is a small jewel for sure, but taken together, they form a stunning picture that can be viewed from myriad dazzling angles. The same can be said for the social and critical commentary by award-winning novelist Cole…Cole’s insights cast fresh light on even the most quotidian of objects…[and his] collection performs an important service by elevating public discourse in an unsettled time.”

—Booklist (starred review)

“To categorize Cole as an “essayist” or “social commentator” would be to diminish the remarkable range of his oeuvre. [He] explores a vast expanse of territory—zigzagging through art history, literature, poetry, music, painting, politics, violence and race in America.”

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

OPEN CITY

A New York Times Notable Book • One of the ten top novels of the year —Time and NPR

NAMED A BEST BOOK ON MORE THAN TWENTY END-OF-THE-YEAR LISTS, INCLUDING The New Yorker • The Atlantic • The Economist • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • The New Republic • New York Daily News • Los Angeles Times • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Minneapolis Star Tribune • GQ • Salon • Slate • New York magazine • The Week • The Kansas City Star • Kirkus Reviews

 

Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award, and the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature.

“An indelible novel. Does precisely what literature should do: it brings together thoughts and beliefs, and blurs borders…A compassionate and masterly work.”

The New York Times

“Beautiful, subtle, and finally, original…What moves the prose forward is the prose—the desire to write, to defeat solitude by writing. Cole has made his novel as close to a diary as a novel can get, with room for reflection, autobiography, stasis, and repetition. This is extremely difficult, and many accomplished novelists would botch it, since a sure hand is needed to make the writer’s careful stitching look like a thread merely being followed for its own sake. Mysteriously, wonderfully, Cole does not botch it.”

James Wood, The New Yorker

“Magnificent and shattering. A remarkably resonant feat of prose.”

The Seattle Times

“A clear-eyed and mysterious achievement, a modern meditation that is both complex and utterly simple…In the precision with which Mr Cole chooses words or phrases he is not unlike Gustave Flaubert.”

The Economist

“A complicated portrait of a narrator whose silences speak as loudly as his words—all articulated in an effortlessly elegant prose…Teju Cole has achieved, in this book, a rare balance. He captures life’s urgent banality, and he captures, too, the ways in which the greater subjects glimmer darkly in the interstices.”

—Claire Messud, The New York Review of Books

“The most thoughtful and provocative debut I’ve read in a long time. The best first novel of 2011.”

The Daily Beast

“Masterful.”

Kirkus (starred review)

“Intelligent and panoramic…engaged with the world in a rare and refreshing way.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Open City is a meditation on history and culture, identity and solitude. The soft, exquisite rhythms of its prose, the display of sensibility, the lucid intelligence, make it a novel to savour and treasure.”

—Colm Tóibín, author of The Master and Brooklyn

“The pages of Open City unfold with the tempo of a profound, contemplative walk through layers of histories and their posthumous excavations. The juxtaposition of encounters, seen through the eyes of a knowing flâneur, surface and then dissolve like a palimpsest composed, outside of time, by a brilliant master.”

—Rawi Hage, author of De Niro’s Game, winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

“A gorgeous, crystalline, and cumulative investigation of memory, identity, and erasure. It gathers its power inexorably, page by page, and ultimately reveals itself as nothing less than a searing tour de force. Teju Cole might just be a W. G. Sebald for the twenty-first century.”

—Anthony Doerr, author of The Shell Collector

“Open City has traces of Mrs Dalloway, touches of Dave Eggers, but it’s 100% Teju Cole. A phenomenal voice, beautiful language.”

The Takeaway, National Public Radio

“One of the most intriguing novels you’ll likely read…the alienated but sophisticated viewpoint is oddly poignant and compelling…reads like Camus’s L’etranger.”

Library Journal

 

EVERY DAY IS FOR THE THIEF

A New York Times Editors’ Choice

A Telegraph Book of the Year

“[Teju Cole’s] novels are lean, expertly sustained performances. The places he can go, you feel, are just about limitless.”—The New York Times

“Every Day Is for the Thief, by turns funny, mournful, and acerbic, offers a portrait of Nigeria in which anger, perhaps the most natural response to the often lamentable state of affairs there, is somehow muted and deflected by the author’s deep engagement with the country: a profoundly disenchanted love. Teju Cole is among the most gifted writers of his generation.”—Salman Rushdie

“Crisp, affecting . . . Taking his cues from W. G. Sebald, John Berger, and Bruce Chatwin, Cole constructs a narrative of fragments, a series of episodes that he allows to resonate.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Remarkable . . . a luminous rumination on storytelling and place, exile and return . . . This is an extraordinary novel, a radiant meditation on the nature of happiness and faith, corruption, misfortune and belonging.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Shimmering . . . Cole has a way of superimposing emotional landscapes over his portraits of physical places that is transcendent. Every Day Is for the Thief is as much as an epic journey into the heart of the traveler as the place traveled.”—The Seattle Times

“Every Day Is for the Thief is a wonderful meditation on modern African life that will help cement Cole’s reputation as a prose stylist. More than that, it is a book that never fails to find a thoughtful and essential thing to say, with each of its finely crafted sentences and paragraphs offering a vision of justice and order to a people beset by so many woes.”—Los Angeles Times

“[A] tightly focused but still marvelously capacious little novel . . . built with cool originality . . . The house of literature [Cole] is busy creating is an in-between space with fluid dimensions, resisting entrenchment.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Cole is following in a long tradition of writerly walkers who, in the tradition of Baudelaire, make their way through urban spaces on foot and take their time doing so. Like Alfred Kazin, Joseph Mitchell, J. M. Coetzee, and W. G. Sebald (with whom he is often compared), Cole adds to the literature in his own zeitgeisty fashion. His wanderer, however, is not man of leisure, soaking up the richness of Paris or New York. The unnamed walker of Every Day moves with urgency, and does so in a cityscape that threatens to slide, avalanche-like, into violence.”—The Boston Globe

“[Every Day Is for the Thief] expands and reinforces the accomplishments of Open City, confirming along the way that Teju is one of the foremost—for the lack of a better term—bicultural writers.”—Aleksandar Hemon, Bomb

“Every Day Is for the Thief is a vivid, episodic evocation of the truism that you can’t go home again; but that doesn’t mean you’re not free to try. A return to his native Nigeria plunges Cole’s charming narrator into a tempest of chaos, contradiction, and kinship in a place both endearingly familiar and unnervingly strange. The result is a tale that engages and disturbs.”—Billy Collins

“Rich imagery and sharp prose . . . widely praised as one of the best fictional depictions of Africa in recent memory.”—The New Yorker

“Every Day Is for the Thief is unapologetically a novel of ideas: a diagnosis of the systemic corruption in Cole’s native Lagos and of corruption’s psychological effects. But, remarkably, the book avoids any of the chunkiness that usually accompanies such work. Emotional and intellectual life are woven too tightly together. The ideas make the character and vice versa.”—The New Republic

“Every Day Is for the Thief is a testament to [Nigeria’s] power to inspire.”—Vanity Fair

“Excellently crafted . . . Optimism regarding the future of [Nigeria] pulsates steadily . . . through [Every Day Is for the Thief].”—The Huffington Post

“Every Day Is for the Thief is an amazing hybrid of a book. Imaginative, original, experimental, and sensual, this book revisits the way narrative is constructed with tenderness and style.”—Chris Abani, author of Graceland

“[Cole] revels in ambiguity, taking inspiration from authors who have toyed with what a novel can be, like W. G. Sebald, J. M. Coetzee and V. S. Naipaul. . . . There is a touch of Alfred Kazin and Joseph Mitchell—two of the most observant walkers in [New York City’s] history—in his books’ open-eyed flaneurs.”—New York Observer

“It’s a novella, it’s a travel journal, it’s a laundry list of methods of thievery, it’s an examination of Nigerian societal norms, it’s the lamentations of an outsider, it’s a photo album. That Cole pulls this off at all is commendable. That it was his first book is a marvel.”—The A.V. Club

“A Teju Cole novel is a reading experience matched by few contemporary writers.”—Flavorwire

“Omnivorous and mesmerizing . . . it is a pleasure to be in [the narrator’s] company.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Beautifully written . . . The Lagos presented here teems with stories.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Versatile, courageous, and hopeful . . . Cole writes without shock absorbers, and the ride is as terrifying as it is gorgeously set.”—Interview