Cole, Teju

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Teju Cole is the pen name of Obayemi (Yemi) Onafuwa, a Nigerian American author born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1975. A photographer, essayist, curator, art historian, and fiction writer, Cole is the author of five books and best known for his debut novel, Open City (2011), which won the PEN/Hemingway and National Book Critics Circle Awards for 2012 as well as praise from reviewers and contemporaries such as Salman Rushdie, Colm Tóibín, and Claudia Rankine. What followed for Cole was a period of creative and public intellectualism which never favored a single cultural form. Written as a series of blog posts and first published as a novella in Nigeria in 2007, Every Day is for the Thief was reprinted in 2014, swiftly followed by a book of essays, Known and Strange Things (2016), and two photobooks, Punto d'ombra (2016)/ Blind Spot (2017) and Fernweh (2020). From working as a photography columnist for The New York Times (2012–2020) to publishing a series of narrative experiments on Twitter and Instagram (2012–2013), Cole's work is formally varied but invariably concerned with the ethics of global travel and colonial and postcolonial urban histories, relying heavily on the representation of individual encounters with art and literature and the technological mediation of modern life to tell richly layered and slowly realized contemporary stories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction 1980–2020
EditorsPatrick O'Donnell, Stephen J. Burn, Lesley Larkin
ISBN (Electronic)9781119431732
ISBN (Print)9781119431718
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2022


  • Teju Cole
  • contemporary fiction
  • Nigerian fiction
  • American fiction
  • photography


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