End-of-summer book club: Teju Cole’s Open City

Looking for one last, fantastic read before summer ends? This year I’m pitching Teju Cole’s 2011 award-winning novel Open City to anyone who’ll listen. It’s brief but still feels bursting with detailed observation, beautifully written, and as important a novel I’ve read about global politics and local identity in a long, long time. Set in New York in the middle of the last decade, the book ambles through city streets — and a quick trip to Brussels — with its narrator, Julius, a Nigerian-born medical student studying at Columbia. The novel’s sensibilities are cosmopolitan — in Appiah’s sense of the term — and so Julius’s flânerie tends to take him to the places where cultures collide, combine, and create something new. But the book is also deeply interested in the idea of history: how the spaces around us were produced, how they produce us, and how we interact, often unknowingly, with their past inhabitants. Starting next week, we’re going to be running several posts on the book over at the too-long-moribund PWHNY but I’d love to hear your comments here, too, if anyone’s able to take up the conversation.

New Yorker review here; great 3AM Magazine interview here. And highly recommended: Teju Cole on Twitter.

2 responses to “End-of-summer book club: Teju Cole’s Open City

  1. Josh K-sky says:

    Oh, good. I cracked that earlier this year but haven’t finished but one book since parenthood. I’ll try to join in.

  2. Farrell Fawcett says:

    Bryan, thanks for writing this! I got about 40 pages into this book, then had to set it aside when summertime squeezed out my free time. I’m excited to return once I’m back in Philly. Thanks for all the extra pointing you’ve done here. Will check these things out. Safe travels back to Abu Dhabi!!