“I'm an American writer. I'm a Nigerian writer. I'm a Nigerian American writer. I'm an African writer. I'm a Yoruba writer. I'm an African American writer. I'm a writer who feels very close to literary practice in India—which I go to quite often—and to writers over there. So bring it on! I don't want to be called just one thing.”
Teju ColeHe’s a writer, art historian, editor, professor photographer, twitter essayist … and expert mix-maker. Obayemi Babajide Adetokunbo Onafuwa, popularly known as Teju Cole, was born June 27, 1975 in Kalamazoo, Michigan (U.S.A) to Nigerian parents but was raised in Nigeria till he returned to the States when he was 17 (1992) where he currently lives. Teju published his first book, a novella titled “Every Day is for the Thief” (20007), was published in Nigeria; but he received international recognized when his first novel “Open City” – the story of a young Nigerian-German psychiatrist in New York City five years after 9/11, was published January 12, 2012 – it won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; it was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and The Morning News Tournament of Books (2012); it was also shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize (2012) and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and was included in Time magazine's "Best Books of the Year". Teju is currently the Distinguished Writer and Achebe Fellow in Residence at Bard College, where he teaches literature and art history at Bard College. Cole is a regular contributor to publications including The New York Times, Granta, The New Yorker, Transition, Aperture and several other magazines. He is a contributing editor at the New Inquiry. His photography has been exhibited in India and the US, and has been published in a number of journals; he has also published essays on prominent photographers and photojournalists such as Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Alex Webb, Rebecca Norris Webb and Howard French. DID YOU KNOW THAT…
- 1. Teju’s first twitter essay - Small Fates, where he crafted compact stories based on small news items in Nigeria, was inspired by the French journalistic tradition of fait divers (which are equivalent to news briefs); and it involved him reading 11 Nigerian newspapers daily.
- 2. His first novel, “Open City” (2012), has been translated into twelve languages.
- 3. An exhibition of his photographs entitled “Who’s Got the Address?” was published (with text by Amitava Kumar) in Domus India and in Guernica, and it was presented in Panjim, Goa, in 2012 and in Ithaca, New York, in 2013.
- 4. Teju has taken photography master-classes with award-winning photographers/photo-journalists Joel Meyerowitz, Alex Webb, and Rebecca Norris Webb.
- 5. He was one of a hundred photographers invited by the International Center for Photography to respond to an image by Robert Capa with an image of their own.
- 6. The new edition of his novella “Every Day is for the Thief” features original photographs he took in Lagos.
- 7. Teju wrote the introduction to Double Negative, a novel by Ivan Vladislavic that is loosely-based on the photographic practice of David Goldblatt.
- 8. January 8th 2014, Teju brought 33 tweets from different accounts, which appeared his feed. The result is a story connecting more than a dozen unrelated people; all recounting what amounts to the same story that tells the story of a public heart attack.
- 9. He’s a big fan of American comedian, Rob Delaney
- 10. Teju has confessed to be more proud of his photography than writing.
- 11. The German-language translation of his novel – “Open City” by Christine Richter-Nilsson won the International Literature Award (2013).
- 12. November, 2013, Teju released a mix –tape/soundtrack for the Global War on Terror for Dubai-based publication, The State.
- 13. 12th December, 2013, Teju appeared on The Verge’s (a New York based news and media network) Top 50 People Who Changed The World in 2013.
- 14. Teju criticized Instagram through his article - Dappled Things: Pinkhassov on Instagram (for The New Inquiry on 23rd September 2013).
- 15. His novella, “Every Day Is for the Thief”, was inspired by his experience in Nigeria in 2005.
- 16. The first book he ever read was Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in an abridged version.
- 17. A revised version of his first book, “Every Day is for the Thief” (2007), will be published in the US and the UK in 2014.
- 18. Teju is also writing a paper on sixteenth century Dutch art renaissance painter, Pieter Buregel, for his PhD at Columbia University (New York)