Teju Cole

25 Books That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About New York

Although the middle of the country is our best hope for the future of American literature, it’s impossible to deny that New York City has inspired some of our greatest writers and books. A few of them, like the ones listed here, do an especially excellent job of summing up the experience of living in this wonderful, crazy, and always-changing city. These 25 books, no matter when they came out, explore themes that will surely resonate with those of us who make our home in the five boroughs, and provide a snapshot of life here for those who… Read More

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‘Every Day Is for the Thief’: Teju Cole’s Photographic Writing

Teju Cole’s writing bears a resemblance to photography and art, but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise — Cole is actually a photographer, as well as an art historian. That background plays heavily into his work. Cole’s craft as a writer comes from being an acute observer and having an understanding of art — attributes that are rarely discussed these days, when it seems like all anybody talks about is whether you should live in New York or chase an MFA. … Read More

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The Best Things We Read on the Internet This Week: Teju Cole’s Twitter Essay, Hispanic Hardcore

Listicles, tweets, your ex’s Facebook status, picture of dogs wearing costumes — the internet offers no shortage of entertaining stuff to look at. But there’s plenty of substantial writing out there, too, the pieces you spend a few minutes reading and a long time thinking about after you’ve closed the tab. In this weekly feature, Flavorwire shares the best of that category. This time around, Teju Cole does something awesome on Twitter (again), the Hispanic contribution to New York City Hardcore, and much more. … Read More

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10 Must-Read Books for March

As we hopefully begin to thaw out from what has been a very long winter, March offers up enough great books to help us get through what should be (but, I mean, who knows these days?) the last truly rough days of winter. No matter what happens, the month offers plenty to look forward to: great debut novels, follow-ups to new classics, true crime as memoir, a new chance to get into an author you should have been reading all along, and a novelist’s… Read More

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50 Books That Define the Past Five Years in Literature

Five years ago this month saw the publication of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 in English. The book topped almost every year-end list and signaled a shift in literary tastes, creating larger audiences for works in translation, historical storylines, and narrative complexity. Between the uncertain future of the publishing industry, the rise of indie presses, new literary magazines, and the Internet and ereaders, the years that followed were bittersweet for the book industry but also a unique and fruitful time for readers. The following 50 books provide several clues as to why that is, and also give a glimpse into the future of… Read More

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Awesome Tumblr Illustrates the Best Quotes From Famous Authors’ Readings

If you can’t be there in person, the best way to appreciate a great reading is Kate Gavino’s Tumblr, Last Night’s Reading. Instead of putting together a lengthy play-by-play of the event she witnessed, Gavino records the best quote, and accompanies it with a colorful sketch of the author. It sounds simple, but the results are striking and unforgettable. Click through for a few highlights. … Read More

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Teju Cole’s Dictionary

Teju Cole took to his Twitter yesterday in what looked like just another passing example of why he’s pretty… Read More

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Was ‘The Great Gatsby’ The Last Great New York Novel?

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby stands out as the finest of his four completed novels because it’s an empathetic satire that delivers the author’s most aggressive attack on New York’s high society. I’ve read it maybe five times, although I prefer the first half because I think that’s where the magic happens. It’s when all three of the novel’s parties take place, and where Fitzgerald’s psychological complexity thrives most — the simultaneous worship and disdain for wealth and celebrity that characterizes his body of work. It’s often praised as a top contender for the Great American Novel, but Gatsby also remains as the best New York novel I’ve ever read because it so fully embodies the city in the time during which it was written, while continuing to speak to readers (and especially New Yorkers) of every generation. … Read More

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The Flâneur in Fiction: Great Books About Wandering the City

Earlier this week, in a piece I wrote about Jean Rhys at the Paris Review, I imagined walking with the author through Cambridge, London, Paris, and New York. In Rhys’ metropolitan novels – Quartet (1928), After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie (1930), Voyage in the Dark (1934), and Good Morning, Midnight (1939) – writing and walking become confluent activities. But her fiction arrives in a long tradition of flâneur writing. Baudelaire once defined the flâneur as “lounger or saunterer, an idle ‘man about town.’” Walter Benjamin’s writing on the arcades of Paris reads like a blueprint. Woolf haunted the streets of London by night, as did Dickens before her. Even Freud got stuck in the city, as walking in Rome invoked an “uncanny” experience, thus informing the polemic for which the father of psychoanalysis is most famous. These authors inspired us to compile a list of our favorite writing on wandering. Saunterers, loungers, and loafers: don’t forget to comment with your favorite walking stories. … Read More

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Contemporary Authors as Adjectives

Today marks the release of George Orwell’s Diaries, the influential writer’s personal writings from the years 1931 to 1949, published for the first time in the United States. Orwell is one of those writers who is so infused in our collective imagination and culture that his name has become its own adjective: “Orwellian” is used to describe a totalitarian government or situation similar to the one in 1984. Like Kafka, whose “Kafkaesque,” has come to mean not only “like Kafka’s writing” but also the more disconnected “marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity,” Orwell’s namesake will probably continue to evolve, becoming a term one understands even without reading a word of his writing. But what about more modern writers? After the jump, we’ve speculated on a few (tongue-in-cheek, mind you) definitions for the adjective-ized versions of contemporary authors — sure, some of their names don’t exactly lend themselves to common adjectival endings, but that’s okay. The English language is ever evolving. And in that spirit, we challenge you to play our game and make up your own in the comments! … Read More

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