Open City: A Novel

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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 YorkerThe AtlanticThe EconomistNewsweek/The Daily Beast • The New Republic • New York Daily News • Los Angeles TimesThe Boston GlobeThe Seattle Times • Minneapolis Star Tribune • GQ • Salon • Slate • New York magazine • The Week • The Kansas City StarKirkus Reviews

A haunting novel about identity, dislocation, and history, Teju Cole’s Open City is a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world.
 
Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor named Julius wanders, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. He encounters 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] prismatic debut . . . beautiful, subtle, [and] original.”—The New Yorker
 
“A psychological hand grenade.”—The Atlantic
 
“Magnificent . . . a remarkably resonant feat of prose.”—The Seattle Times
 
“A precise and poetic meditation on love, race, identity, friendship, memory, [and] dislocation.”—The Economist
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About the author

Teju Cole was born in the United States in 1975 and raised in Nigeria. He is the author of Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City,which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York City Book Award, and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His photography has been exhibited in India and the United States. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College
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3.7
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Feb 8, 2011
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780679604495
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / African American / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY DWIGHT GARNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY San Francisco Chronicle | NPR | The Root | The Telegraph | The Globe and Mail

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • FINALIST, PHILLIS WHEATLEY BOOK AWARD • TEJU COLE WAS NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL AFRICANS OF THE YEAR BY NEW AFRICAN MAGAZINE

For readers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Michael Ondaatje, Every Day Is for the Thief is a wholly original work of fiction by Teju Cole, whose critically acclaimed debut, Open City, was the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named one of the best books of the year by more than twenty publications.

Fifteen years is a long time to be away from home. It feels longer still because I left under a cloud.

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.

Praise for Every Day Is for the Thief

“A luminous rumination on storytelling and place, exile and return . . . extraordinary.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“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.”—The Boston Globe
A powerful, gripping, award-winning novel of love and betrayal, honesty and artifice, from one of the most daring voices of the Middle East.
 
A successful Arab criminal attorney and a social worker-turned-artist find their lives intersecting under the most curious of circumstances. The lawyer has a thriving practice in the Jewish part of Jerusalem, a large house, a Mercedes, speaks both Arabic and Hebrew, and is in love with his wife and two young children. In an effort to uphold his image as a sophisticated Israeli Arab, he often makes weekly visits to a local bookstore to pick up popular novels. On one fateful evening, he decides to buy a used copy of Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata, a book his wife once recommended. To his surprise, inside he finds a small white note, a love letter, in Arabic, in her handwriting. Consumed with suspicion and jealousy, the lawyer slips into a blind rage over the presumed betrayal. He first considers murder, revenge, then divorce, but when the initial sting of humiliation and hurt dissipates, he decides to hunt for the book’s previous owner—a man named Yonatan, a man who is not easy to track down, whose identity is more complex than imagined, and whose life is more closely aligned with his own than expected. In the process of dredging up old ghosts and secrets, the lawyer tears the string that holds all of their lives together.
 
Winner of the 2011 Bernstein Prize, Second Person Singular is “part comedy of manners, part psychological mystery” (The Boston Globe), a deliciously complex parable that “deftly examines universal themes of isolation vs. assimilation” (Library Journal) and offers “sharp insights on the assumptions made about race, religion, ethnicity, and class that shape Israeli identity” (Publishers Weekly).
 
“[Kashua’s] dry wit shines.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Kashua’s protagonists struggle, often comically . . . making his narratives more nuanced than some of the other Arabs writing about the conflict” —Newsweek
 
“Sayed Kashua is a brilliant, funny, humane writer who effortlessly overturns any and all preconceptions about the Middle East. God, I love him.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
 
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • Colum McCann’s beloved novel inspired by Philippe Petit’s daring high-wire stunt, which is also depicted in the film The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth. Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the “artistic crime of the century.”

A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a “fiercely original talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic.

“This is a gorgeous book, multilayered and deeply felt, and it’s a damned lot of fun to read, too. Leave it to an Irishman to write one of the greatest-ever novels about New York. There’s so much passion and humor and pure lifeforce on every page of Let the Great World Spin that you’ll find yourself giddy, dizzy, overwhelmed.”—Dave Eggers

“Stunning . . . [an] elegiac glimpse of hope . . . It’s a novel rooted firmly in time and place. It vividly captures New York at its worst and best. But it transcends all that. In the end, it’s a novel about families—the ones we’re born into and the ones we make for ourselves.”—USA Today

“Mesmerizing . . . a Joycean look at the lives of New Yorkers changed by a single act on a single day . . . McCann’s marvelously rich novel . . . weaves a portrait of a city and a moment, dizzyingly satisfying to read and difficult to put down.”—The Seattle Times

“Vibrantly whole . . . With a series of spare, gorgeously wrought vignettes, Colum McCann brings 1970s New York to life. . . . And as always, McCann’s heart-stoppingly simple descriptions wow.”—Entertainment Weekly

“An act of pure bravado, dizzying proof that to keep your balance you need to know how to fall.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
A blazingly intelligent first book of essays from the award-winning author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Time • The Guardian • Harper's Bazaar • San Francisco Chronicle • The Atlantic • Financial Times • Kirkus

Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

With this collection of more than fifty pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature, Teju Cole solidifies his place as one of today’s most powerful and original voices. On page after page, deploying prose dense with beauty and ideas, he finds fresh and potent ways to interpret art, people, and historical moments, taking in subjects from Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare, and W. G. Sebald to Instagram, Barack Obama, and Boko Haram. Cole brings us new considerations of James Baldwin in the age of Black Lives Matter; the African American photographer Roy DeCarava, who, forced to shoot with film calibrated exclusively for white skin tones, found his way to a startling and true depiction of black subjects; and (in an essay that inspired both praise and pushback when it first appeared) the White Savior Industrial Complex, the system by which African nations are sentimentally aided by an America “developed on pillage.”

Persuasive and provocative, erudite yet accessible, Known and Strange Things is an opportunity to live within Teju Cole’s wide-ranging enthusiasms, curiosities, and passions, and a chance to see the world in surprising and affecting new frames.

Praise for Known and Strange Things

“On every level of engagement and critique, Known and Strange Things is an essential and scintillating journey.”—Claudia Rankine, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“A heady mix of wit, nostalgia, pathos, and a genuine desire to untangle the world, or at the least, to bask in its unending riddles.”—The Atlantic

“Brilliant . . . [Known and Strange Things] reveals Cole’s extraordinary talent and his capacious mind.”—Time

“[Known and Strange Things] showcases the magnificent breadth of subjects [Cole] is able to plumb with . . . passion and eloquence.”—Harper’s Bazaar

“[Cole is] one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary writing.”—LA Times

“Cole has fulfilled the dazzling promise of his novels Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City. He ranges over his interests with voracious keenness, laser-sharp prose, an open heart and a clear eye.”—The Guardian

“Remarkably probing essays . . . Cole is one of only a very few lavishing his focused attention on that most approachable (and perhaps therefore most overlooked) art form, photography.”—Chicago Tribune

“There’s almost no subject Cole can’t come at from a startling angle. . . . His [is a] prickly, eclectic, roaming mind.”—The Boston Globe

“[Cole] brings a subtle, layered perspective to all he encounters.”—Vanity Fair

“In page after page, Cole upholds the sterling virtue of good writing combined with emotional and intellectual engagement.”—The New Statesman

“[Known and Strange Things possesses] a passion for justice, a deep sympathy for the poor and the powerless around the world, and a fiery moral outrage.”—Poets and Writers
“Stunning . . . A beautiful, sprawling, and generous book. Jansma is a brilliantly talented writer, but he also has a unique insight into what friends mean to one another, and what it means to be part of a city in which you never quite belong, but can’t quite bring yourself to leave. It’s a heartfelt novel, tender and painful and cathartic all at once, and even if the characters belong to New York, the story belongs to us all.” —NPR

December, 2008. A heavy snowstorm is blowing through Manhattan and the economy is on the brink of collapse, but none of that matters to a handful of guests at a posh holiday party. Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past.

Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead—a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses.

Kristopher Jansma’s award-winning debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, was praised for its  “wry humor” and “charmingly unreliable narrator” in The New Yorker and hailed as “F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson” by The Village Voice. In Why We Came to the City, Jansma offers an unforgettable exploration of friendships forged in the fires of ambition, passion, hope, and love. This glittering story of a generation coming of age is a sweeping, poignant triumph.


From the Hardcover edition.
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