Teju Cole

Teju Cole, photo by Christopher Anderson/ Magnum Photos
Teju Cole, photo by Christopher Anderson/ Magnum Photos

Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He is the distinguished writer in residence at Bard College, photography critic for the New York Times Magazine, and the author of four books.

Praising his essay collection in the New York Times, Claudia Rankine wrote, “The world belongs to Cole and is thornily and gloriously allied with his curiosity and his personhood … History—literary, political, social or personal—offers us a vast archive of knowledge that both influences and challenges the definitions we construct for ourselves. On every level of engagement and critique, Known and Strange Things is an essential and scintillating journey.”

Cole’s novel, Open City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature. His novella, Every Day is for the Thief, was named a book of the year by the New York Times, NPR, and the Telegraph and was shortlisted for the PEN Open Book Award.

His latest book, Blind Spot, is an innovative synthesis of more than 150 full-color original photos, each accompanied by his lyrical and evocative prose, forming a multimedia diary of years of near-constant travel. It was shortlisted for the 2017 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation First PhotoBook Award and named one of the best books of the year by Time Magazine and Smithsonian magazine.

He was awarded the 2015 Windham-Campbell Prize in fiction and a 2015 United States Artists award. He has contributed to the New York Times, the New Yorker, Granta, Brick, and many other magazines.

Born in the United States to Nigerian parents, Cole was taken to Nigeria shortly afterward and grew up there. He returned to the United States at age seventeen to attend college. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


selected bibliography

Blind Spot by Teju Cole
Blind Spot (2017)
Known and Strange Things (2016)
Open City (2011)
Every Day is for the Thief (2007)

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online resources

Teju Cole’s website
Cole’s Known and Strange Things review in the New York Times
Cole interviewed on Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon
Open City reviewed in the New Yorker by James Wood