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: Every Day Is for the Thief, which was named a Book of the Year by The New York Times; and Open City, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award. His most recent books are the critically acclaimed essay collection Known and Strange Things and the synthesis of lyric and photography, Blind Spot. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College and the photography critic for The New York Times Magazine

“[Blind Spot] explores the mysteries of the ordinary. Cole’s questioning, tentative habit of mind, suspending judgement while hoping for the brief miracle of insight, is a form of what used to be called humanism.”

New York Times Books Review (Editors’ Choice)

Teju Cole was born in the US in 1975 to Nigerian parents, raised in Nigeria, and currently lives in Brooklyn. His latest book is Blind Spot: a gorgeous collection of full-color photos, each accompanied by short selections of lyrical prose that explore “the mysteries of the ordinary” (The New York Times Book Review).  His third book, Known and Strange Things—which was named to Time​’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2016, Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Nonfiction of 2016” list, and one of Harper’s Bazaar’s “13 Best Books of 2016”—is a collection of essays that span art, literature, and politics, with topics from Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin to President Obama and Boko Haram. 


“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.”

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 was named one of the best books of the year The GuardianNewsweek, 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 TelegraphThe Globe and Mail, and NPR. 

“You’ll want to take your time reading this—it’s a heady mix of wit, nostalgia, pathos, and a genuine desire to untangle the world.”

The Atlantic on Known and Strange Things

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