40. Teju Cole
Certainly one of the only writers we can think of that lives in Brooklyn (ha), Teju Cole’s first novel, Open City, was, by any measuring stick, an enormous success (his first book, a novella, appears to be out of print). Open City, which follows a Nigerian doctor, Julius, as he wanders aimlessly around New York City, catapulted Cole into the center of the whole “important young New York writers” scene and put him on just about everyone’s list of smart people that need to be watched and read. Since the release of Open City, he has written essays for Granta (about his eye problems) and The Atlantic (a controversial stance about the KONY 2012 video). Over at his Twitter feed, Cole writes what he calls “fait divers“: bite-sized, sadly funny reports about news, usually deaths, in Lagos. Now he’s writing a nonfiction book about Lagos, sure to attract all the eager and important eyeballs.