Author of Every Day is for the Thief and Open City
Teju Cole was born in the US in 1975 to Nigerian parents, raised in Nigeria, and currently lives in Brooklyn. His first novel, Open City, was awarded the Rosenthal Family Foundation Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, and the Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction; nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, and a prize from the Royal Society of Literature; and named one of the best books of 2011 by, Newsweek, the Guardian, the Atlantic, the New York Times, and many others. His novella, Every Day Is for the Thief, has been "widely praised as one of the best fictional depictions of Africa in recent memory" (The New Yorker) and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Globe and Mail, and NPR. He will publish his first book of essays with Random House in August 2016: a collection called Known and Strange Things. The 40-plus essays in the book will span art, literature, and politics, with topics from Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin to President Obama and Boko Haram.
Cole is a contributor to many leading journals and magazines. He has lectured widely on a variety of subjects, from contemporary ethics to literary studies, and is currently working on two books, a non-fiction narrative of Lagos, and a photographic project about Switzerland. He recently exhibited his photographs in a show titled "Who's Got the Address?" He teaches literature and art history at Bard College, where he is Distinguished Writer in Residence and Achebe Fellow.
University of British Columbia
We had a great time with Teju. He was brilliant, insightful, courteous, and really easy to deal with.
Every Day Is for the Thief
A young Nigerian living in New York City goes home to Lagos for a short visit, finding a city both familiar and strange. In a city dense with story, the unnamed narrator moves through a mosaic of life, hoping to find inspiration for his own. He witnesses the “yahoo yahoo” diligently perpetrating email frauds from an Internet café, longs after a mysterious woman reading on a public bus who disembarks and disappears into a bookless crowd, and recalls the tragic fate of an eleven-year-old boy accused of stealing at a local market.
Along the way, the man reconnects with old friends, a former girlfriend, and extended family, taps into the energies of Lagos life—creative, malevolent, ambiguous—and slowly begins to reconcile the profound changes that have taken place in his country and the truth about himself.
In spare, precise prose that sees humanity everywhere, interwoven with original photos by the author, Every Day Is for the Thief—originally published in Nigeria in 2007—is a wholly original work of fiction. This revised and updated edition is the first version of this unique book to be made available outside Africa. You’ve never read a book like Every Day Is for the Thief because no one writes like Teju Cole.
The past, if there is such a thing, is mostly empty space, great expanses of nothing, in which significant persons and events float. Nigeria was like that for me: mostly forgotten, except for those few things that I remembered with outsize intensity. Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. Though he is navigating the busy parts of town, the impression of countless faces does nothing to assuage his feelings of isolation. But it is not only a physical landscape he covers; Julius crisscrosses social territory as well, encountering people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey - which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul. A hunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss, dislocation, and surrender, Teju Cole's "Open City" seethes with intelligence. Written in a clear, rhythmic voice that lingers, this book is a mature, profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our world.