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Known and Strange Things


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About the Author

Teju Cole was born in the United States in 1975 and raised in Nigeria. He is the author of Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York City Book Award, and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His photography has been exhibited in India and the United States. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.


"On every level of engagement and critique, Known and Strange Things is an essential and scintillating journey."--Claudia Rankine, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

"A heady mix of wit, nostalgia, pathos, and a genuine desire to untangle the world, or at the least, to bask in its unending riddles."--The Atlantic

"Brilliant . . . [Known and Strange Things] reveals Cole's extraordinary talent and his capacious mind."--Time

"[Cole is] one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary writing."--LA Times

"[Teju] Cole has fulfilled the dazzling promise of his novels Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City."--The Guardian

"Remarkably probing."--Chicago Tribune

"There's almost no subject Cole can't come at from a startling angle. . . . His [is a] prickly, eclectic, roaming mind."--The Boston Globe

"[A] dazzlingly wide-ranging collection."--San Francisco Chronicle

"[Cole] brings a subtle, layered perspective to all he encounters."--Vanity Fair

"Erudite and wide-ranging . . . Mr. Cole proves himself a modern Renaissance man."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Teju Cole proves the twenty-first-century essay is in fine fettle."--The New Statesman

"[Known and Strange Things possesses] a passion for justice, a deep sympathy for the poor and the powerless around the world, and a fiery moral outrage."--Poets and Writers

"Bold, thoughtful essays."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"We have in Cole . . . a continuation of [James] Baldwin's legacy; he's an observer and truth-seeker of the highest order."--The Seattle Times

"Essays pulse with the possible; the best ones gesture at unexplored territories. But they feel most satisfying where the author has followed his ideas to places the reader hadn't thought to visit. Known and Strange Things contains many essays that do this beautifully, combining the thoughtful pause with insistent questioning, tumbling over different terrains, picking up bits of them as they go, taking on the grain and texture of all the places they've been."--Financial Times

"An immersive experience into a wide-ranging set of concerns, memorably conveyed onto the page."--Men's Journal

"[Cole] displays infectious inquisitiveness as an essayist."--O: The Oprah Magazine

"[Known and Strange Things] showcases the magnificent breadth of subjects [Cole] is able to plumb with . . . passion and eloquence."--Harper's Bazaar

"Erudite, committed and finely observed."--The Age

"[Known and Strange Things reveals] fascinating aspects of Cole's searching and unusual mind . . . omnivorously exploring everything from Virginia Woolf to his now-famous essay on the White Savior Industrial Complex."--The Washington Post

"Cole's essays are brilliantly written--sharp, intelligent--and yield a pleasurable sweetness. His prose, in its variations, is impeccably where he wants it to be. His erudition is put to work humbly. But in encountering these essays, perhaps the most important quality to grasp is Cole's deep sense of the seriousness of life. . . . I am sentimental about Teju Cole and think of him as an emissary for our best selves. He is sampling himself for our benefit, hoping for enlightenment, and seeking to provide pleasure to us through his art. May his realm expand."--Norman Rush, The New York Review of Books

"Cole combines the rigor of a critic with the curiosity of Everyman."--BookPage

"A bold, honest, and controversially necessary read."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Cole is a literary performance artist, his words meticulously chosen and deployed with elegance and force. To read, see, and travel with him is to be changed by the questions that challenge him."--Publishers Weekly

"Cole's insights cast fresh light on even the most quotidian of objects . . . [and his] collection performs an important service by elevating public discourse in an unsettled time."--Booklist (starred review)

"A terrific collection of essays from one of our greatest public intellectuals."--Vox

"Cole's writing is masterful and lyrical and politically and socially engaged, and he is probably one of the most interesting African writers at work today."--Chris Abani, author of Graceland and The Face

"The forms of resistance depend on the culture they resist, and in our era of generalizations and approximations and sloppiness, Teju Cole's precise and vivid observation and description are an antidote and a joy. This is a book written with a scalpel, a microscope, and walking shoes, full of telling details and sometimes big surprises."--Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me

"Absolutely wonderful . . . Teju Cole is so erudite, so laser sharp, that his intelligence shimmers, but best of all, his personality shines through as being kind and generous. I found myself transported and moved deeply."--Petina Gappah, author of The Book of Memory

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