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Open City: A Novel | [Teju Cole]

Open City: A Novel

Acclaimed author Teju Cole’s writing has appeared in numerous journals in Nigeria and the United States. His second novel, Open City is the story of a Nigerian-German psychiatrist making a living in New York City five years after the Twin Towers were destroyed. The tale emerges as a rich and unforgettable meditation of life and culture.
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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed author Teju Cole’s writing has appeared in numerous journals in Nigeria and the United States. His second novel, Open City is the story of a Nigerian-German psychiatrist making a living in New York City five years after the Twin Towers were destroyed. The tale emerges as a rich and unforgettable meditation of life and culture.

©2011 Teju Cole (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Reminiscent of the works of W.G. Sebald, this dreamy, incantatory debut was the most beautiful novel I read this year—the kind of book that remains on your nightstand long after you finish so that you can continue dipping in occasionally as a nighttime consolation." (Ruth Franklin, The New Republic)

"A psychological hand grenade." (Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic, Best Books I Read This Year)

“A meditative and startlingly clear-eyed first novel.” (Newsweek/Daily Beast Writers’ Favorite Books 2011)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (59 )
5 star
 (15)
4 star
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Overall
3.6 (47 )
5 star
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1 star
 (4)
Story
3.8 (47 )
5 star
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3 star
 (8)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Eric FERNDALE, MI, United States 02-27-12
    Eric FERNDALE, MI, United States 02-27-12 Listener Since 2008

    iwantallthebooks

    HELPFUL VOTES
    60
    ratings
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    17
    8
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    9
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "A Rich Tapestry"

    Under the guise of young professional's straying thoughts as he walks New York (and later, Amsterdam), Cole weaves a complex world, combining thoughts on the world (everything from bed bugs to economic collapse), personal memoir, happenstance conversations, history and the world around him. As in the movie "The Waking Life", long passages of the novel are incidental monologues that characters seem to recite to the narrator, almost unprompted.

    Open City rewards patience. On a minute, paragraph by paragraph scale, Cole's laconic plotting might seem aimless, but rich themes bubble to the fore of each chapter, and larger themes invite probing and relistening as you dig into the book. Cole paints a complex but vivid character, a man who seems to accomplish much but dreams so much more. Yet, you'll see, he isn't quite an angel.

    I enjoyed this book greatly. It has its conceits - why does everyone open themselves up so unreservedly to this mysterious narrator? - but the tapestry of thoughts, conversations and dreamlike action, all told with gorgeous prose, was intoxicating. I've actually found it's rich world worth exploring again with a relisten.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wehrly Redmond, WA, United States 03-17-11
    Wehrly Redmond, WA, United States 03-17-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    3
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    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "Passable"

    This looked very much like the kind of book I like, but I was not thrilled by it. I was first worried when I found the first section stiff and boring...but I don't love discussions of classical music, so I thought maybe that's why I was not listening intently. The middle part got more interesting, but any insights into the narrator and his dilemmas were either incomplete hints, or too subtle for me to follow. There is a lot of potentially interesting stuff to come from exploring the relationships between the Nigerian/German narrator and various other expatriates, and African Americans in NYC, but this stuff was more academic than integrated into a story. Overall this novel felt like a lot of connective tissue had been removed for the sake of a leaner book, and that it might have been better if it hadn't been so whittled down. I was also misled by the idea that NYC was a major part of the story, which it is not--at least not the way it is in Colum McCann's novel Let the Great World Spin. (It may be that reading the latter while listening to this really put Cole at a disadvantage.)

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LeighLeighE Columbus, OH USA 03-10-14
    LeighLeighE Columbus, OH USA 03-10-14 Member Since 2012

    .

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    12
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    Story
    "Made me think"

    This story blossoms a thought process around several global issues while offering very little plot and no closure. The writing is so excellent that I still give it 4 stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Irene Portage, Michigan, United States 05-03-12
    Irene Portage, Michigan, United States 05-03-12 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stream of consciousness novel"

    It was interesting, though unusual. Cole's descriptions of places and people made it easy to visualize them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Canada 01-24-12
    Mary Canada 01-24-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Great book"
    What made the experience of listening to Open City the most enjoyable?

    This is a great book. It is thoughtful and insightful. The writing is beautiful and the images of New York are great.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Baycyd San Francisco 01-02-12
    Baycyd San Francisco 01-02-12 Member Since 2005

    Baycyd

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
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    89
    25
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    1
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    Story
    "Rich enough that I want to read it instead"
    If you could sum up Open City in three words, what would they be?

    Read it instead.


    What other book might you compare Open City to and why?

    A book that is very rich in character


    If you could take any character from Open City out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I would take the author


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this long enough one night that I knew it was a keeper and that I would want to savor all the words in print. Perhaps I will listen again after I read it. I was enjoying the performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    amckiereads 06-22-11
    amckiereads 06-22-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    24
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    "Never pulled me in..."

    Although the writing (reading in this case) was lyrical and well done, it just never grabbed my attention. I kept waiting for something to happen and nothing did. The ramblings were occasionally moderately interesting but not much else. If you like differently told stories and literary fiction then you will likely enjoy this as it seems to be much celebrated. Although the narration was great, the book just didn't do it for me.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Burlington, ONTARIO, Canada 12-11-12
    Tony Burlington, ONTARIO, Canada 12-11-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    81
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    181
    46
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    18
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    Story
    "COULDN'T FINISH !"

    Another reviewer referred to this novel as a 'stream of consciousness ' novel and that it may well be. I just couldn't get into it. I felt that there is probably a great deal of deep meaning within this novel, well I must be really shallow! As the story went on, I found that my mind was wandering and I really didn't care about the main character. To me the narrator sounded as though he was just recovering from a chest infection that had left his voice a little gravely. I have plenty of books in my library and I couldn't continue with what I felt was a waste of my time.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 02-09-12
    Andre Ithaca, NY, United States 02-09-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    165
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    706
    82
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    Story
    "Assimilant's writing"

    This book has no plot. There is no development of characters or story. It is basically a totally boring diary of an assimilant from Nigeria, turning into a medical doctor. I did not want to waste my time listening to it all the way through.

    0 of 6 people found this review helpful
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