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NYS Writers Institute, February 10, 2012
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center,
Uptown Campus
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Teju Cole, acclaimed Nigerian-American fiction writer and street photographer, and author of his first novel Open City (2011), which has been named a “Best Book of 2011” by several major newspapers and magazines, will read from and speak about his work on Friday, February 10, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center on the uptown campus. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and are free and open to the public.

Open CityNigerian-American fiction writer and photographer Teju Cole is the author of the acclaimed first novel Open City (2011), the journey of a young psychiatrist who wanders aimlessly through the streets of Manhattan exploring the city’s physical landscapes and social milieus. At the same time, he explores his own internal landscapes—his memories, recent heartaches, the Nigeria of his youth, his feelings of dislocation and isolation, and his fascinations with the New York City environment.

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.”

Teju ColeBorn 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 https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.