Teju Cole’s Open City

modern stream of consciousness

I have just shut this book; still warm to the touch. It is the first time I have read this Nigerian-American author’s work.

Psychiatry, music, history, religion, race are all covered within its pages, but not in the usual vein. It is a multi layered, sophisticated and real read.

There is no build up, no classic climax. Instead climactic properties are diluted throughout the struggles, stereotypes, ignorance, fear and so on, that are ever present in the daily fabric. And although there are moments that are markedly defining, they never come across as a denouement, but more like an event that takes its place in a long series of events and experiences with associated effects and repercussions that make up a life.

The protagonist, develops his ideas and tries to understand his feelings and relationships while walking around the city. He is not on automatic pilot, nor oblivious, as he strolls through the boroughs of New York. Rather, he is acutely aware of and searching for meaning in all that he encounters: nature, people, buildings, historical sites. In fact multi faceted musings and elegant considerations unfold from these very observations and chance encounters.

We get a glimpse into a very active and fine tuned mind while reading. A book not afraid to look at things from different angles, deferential and challenging, original and very very honest. In my opinion cerebral yet simple due to its clarity.

Two other books currently on the nightstand that could form an interesting triage (by association) are: Jazz by Toni Morrison and The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Happy reading!

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