NIGERIAN-AMERICAN FICTION WRITER AND RISING STAR OF AMERICAN LETTERS, TO DISCUSS HIS ACCLAIMED FIRST NOVEL, OPEN CITY
The book has been featured on innumerable “Best of 2011” lists in major publications and media outlets, including the New Yorker, New York Times, NPR, Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times, Atlantic, GQ, Guardian, New Statesman and TIME magazine.
The New York Times reviewer described the book as “An indelible novel [that] does precisely what literature should do: it brings together thoughts and beliefs, and blurs borders…A compassionate and masterly work.” The Economist reviewer called it “A clear-eyed and mysterious achievement, a modern meditation that is both complex and utterly simple,” and said, “In the precision with which Mr. Cole chooses words or phrases he is not unlike Gustave Flaubert.”
New Yorker critic James Wood, who named Open City one of the top five books of the year, said, “Beautiful, subtle, and finally, original… Cole has made his novel as close to a diary as a novel can get, with room for reflection, autobiography, stasis, and repetition. This is extremely difficult, and many accomplished novelists would botch it…. Mysteriously, wonderfully, Cole does not botch it.”
Born to Nigerian parents in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Cole left the United States with his family while still in his infancy to resettle in Lagos, Nigeria. He re-immigrated in 1992 at the age of 17. In addition to writing fiction, he writes art criticism and is also a street photographer. He includes photographs in his novella Every Day is for the Thief (2007), a cinematic portrait of everyday life in Lagos. Nigerian critic Tolulope Ogunlesi, reviewing the book in African Writer, said, “Thieves abound in Lagos, and in this book. Every minute, every page is for the thief— the pickpocket, the dubious petrol station attendant, the murderous armed robber, the compact disc pirate, the hostage-taking area boy, the bribe-taking police, customs and embassy officers, the thieving politician whose actions and inactions account for power failures and fuel scarcities… [all of it written] in prose that is at once precise and haunting, even long after the final word.”
Cole is currently writing a book-length nonfiction narrative, Small Fates, about the city of Lagos, his boyhood home, the largest city in Africa, and one of the fastest growing cities in the world. He serves currently as Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.