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 Yorker • The Atlantic • The Economist • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • The New Republic • New York Daily News • Los Angeles Times • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Minneapolis Star Tribune • GQ • Salon • Slate • New York magazine • The Week • The Kansas City Star • Kirkus 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
Possibly the only negative thing to say about Cole's intelligent and panoramic first novel is that it is a more generous account of the recent past than the era deserves. America's standing in the world is never far from the restless thoughts of psychiatry resident Julius, a Nigerian immigrant who wanders Manhattan, pondering everything from Goya and the novels of J.M. Coetzee to the bankruptcy of Tower Records and the rise of the bedbug epidemic. In other words, it is an ongoing reverie in the tradition of W.G. Sebald or Nicholson Baker, but with the welcome interruptions of the friends and strangers Julius meets as he wanders Penn Station, the Upper West Side, and Brussels during a short holiday, and amid discussions of Alexander Hamilton, black identity, and the far left a truly American novel emerges. Julius pines over a recent ex, mourns the death of a friend, goes to movies, concerts, and museums, but above all he ruminates, and the picture of a mind that emerges in lieu of a plot is fascinating, as it is engaged with the world in a rare and refreshing way.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A good first novel
An unusual novel set mostly in NYC and Brussels from 2006-07 that read more like a memoir.
Glad that I Read This
I appreciate the big questions tackled in this book, questions of being itself. I read this with the twitter book club, and having a group to read with definitely helped me to persevere. In the end, it is well worth the investment. Thanks Teju!
Not a novel
A memoir, an essay, maybe a personal journal, but definitely NOT a novel. This is not fiction. I guess I can see why it's on all those best books lists-- I'm thinkin all those entities are in Manhattan. This is a very New Yorkey book. The voice is compelling, the insights relatable, but don't be looking for a plot. I did finish it, but if you've never been to NYC, the details of Coles meanderings through Midtown and the Bowery can be kind of boring.