Teju Cole

Fiction

2015

Nigeria/United States

Teju Cole’s peripatetic narrators, like his prose, revel in the possibilities and limitations of global urbanity, navigating the fine line between choice and circumstance, perception and memory.

Teju Cole is the author of two works of fiction that radically expand our understanding of diaspora and dislocation in the twenty-first century. Cole was born in the US to Nigerian parents, raised in Lagos, and currently resides in New York City, which serves as both setting and subject of Open City (2011). The novel, which documents the roaming thoughts and encounters of a Nigerian-German psychiatrist, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and earned Cole a PEN/Hemingway Award, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and frequent comparisons to W.G. Sebald.  In Every Day Is for the Thief, published in 2007 in Nigeria and in 2014 in the US, a dual American and Nigerian citizen travels from his home in New York to Lagos and finds himself a stranger. Every Day features original photographs by the author, and was named a Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Globe and Mail, and NPR.  Cole is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College, photography critic of the New York Times Magazine, and is currently at work on a nonfiction book about contemporary Lagos.

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A prize jury selects for excellence, but also in service of a vision of what society's conversation with itself should be. I'm so thrilled that the committee for the Windham-Campbell Prize has included my voice in this conversation. I take encouragement from it, I'm emboldened by it, and I'm very grateful for the doors it will open.
Teju Cole