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.
A stunning and acclaimed debut novel following a young man's journey from Nigeria to Manhattan.
Winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a distinguished first book of fiction
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
"Reminiscent of the works of W.G. Sebald, this dreamy, incantatory debut was the most beautiful novel I read this year--the kind of book that remains on your nightstand long after you finish so that you can continue dipping in occasionally as a nighttime consolation." -Ruth Franklin, "The New Republic"
"A psychological hand grenade." -Alexis Madrigal, "The Atlantic," Best Books I Read This Year
"A meditative and startlingly clear-eyed first novel." -"Newsweek"/Daily Beast Writers' Favorite Books 2011
"This year, literary discovery came, for me, in the form of Teju Cole's debut novel, "Open City," a deceptively meandering first-person narrative about a Nigerian psychiatry resident in New York. The bonhomous flaneur who strolls Manhattan from top to bottom, reveals, in the course of his walking meditations, both more about the city and about himself than we - or indeed he - could possibly anticipate. Cole writes beautifully; his protagonist is unique; and his novel, utterly thrilling." -Clare Messud in the" Globe and Mail"
"On the surface, the story of a young, foreign psychiatry resident in post-9/11 New York City who searches for the soul of the city by losing himself in extended strolls around teeming Manhattan. But it's really a story about a lost nation struggling to regain a sense of direction after that shattering, disorienting day 10 years ago. A quiet, lyrical and profound piece of writing." -"Seattle Times," 32 of the Year's Best Books
"[Open City is] lean and mean and bristles with intelligence. The multi-culti characters and streets of New York are sharply observed and feel just right...Toward the end, there's a poignant, unexpected scene in a tailor's shop that's an absolute knockout." -Jessica Hagedorn, author of Toxicology in Salon.com "Writers choose their