Teju Cole

I see myself as an observer of the world who has a strong drive to testify.

Award-Winning Author of Open City, Photography Critic for NYT Magazine

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Teju Cole | Award-Winning Author of Open City, Photography Critic for NYT Magazine
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Teju Cole was born in the US in 1975 and raised in Nigeria. He is the author of two works of fiction: a novella, Every Day Is for the Thief, which was named a Book of the Year by The New York Times; and a novel, Open City, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College and the photography critic for The New York Times Magazine

“Cole has earned flattering comparisons to literary heavyweights like J.M. Coetzee, W.G. Sebald and Henry James, but merits higher praise: [his novel, Open City, is] a profoundly original work, intellectually stimulating and possessing of a style both engaging and seductive.”


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. 


“We had a great time with Teju. He was brilliant, insightful, courteous, and really easy to deal with.”

University of British Columbia