Teju Cole, rising literary star

Teju Cole (born 1975) is a renowned Nigerian-American novelist and journalist, widely regarded as one of the most talented writers of his generation. Born in Michigan, Cole was raised in Nigeria before returning to the USA as a teenager. His two homes are important features in his writing.


Teju Cole

Cole’s first book, Every Day is for the Thief (2007), was named Book of the Year by National Public Radio and the New York Times. Its protagonist returns to Lagos, Nigeria after a fifteen­ year absence, visiting old friends and family and reflecting on the ways in which the city, and his identity, have changed.

His second novel, Open City (2011), is written from the perspective of a young Nigerian psychiatrist in New York City, who walks the streets daily and observes the heaving metropolis that surrounds him. A meditative reflection on history and humanity, this book received a great number of awards and accolades, including the PEN/Hemingway Award.

Cole also writes for newspapers and magazines and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. His thought-provoking essay on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, in which he discussed freedom of speech and its status in Western society, gained widespread attention.

Cole is also an art historian and a photographer, and his photo exhibition Blind Spot will be displayed at Eymundsson Bookstore in Reykjavík for the duration of the festival.

Panel: Home Away from Home, Blind Spot & Official Opening and Keynote Address