I picked up Teju Cole’s Open City because I saw his bit in The Atlantic about the White-Saviour Industrial Complex. This book isn’t really about Africa, but about being a man distanced from the world.
Julius is a Nigerian-born psychiatry resident in New York and the story follows him walking through his city, a trip to Belgium and his memories. There are multiple relationships touched upon, including that of his German mother, an elderly professor and people half-remembered from his childhood.
The book creates this sympathy for a calloused and detached person whose job is to connect with and resolve issues for his patients. It’s very good. Contemplative. A revelation in the end changes how you perceive Julius throughout the book, and that’s probably as close as the book gets to a plot.
I love books where the ending makes you re-evaluate what came before, but there is a lot more to this novel than a twist in perception; there is a quiet yet insistent vitality.
Cole is an Nigerian, now American, photographer and author. The book relates the thoughts and musings of a psychiatrist during his walks in New York City. It is almost precious, but solid. Interesting.
This is pretty well written, but the bombshell that is dropped about twenty pages from the end is a lot to take in. I see why Cole didn't explain it - he's probably trying to show how this narrator uses his intellect to distance himself from painful emotional experience and guilt. But, I don't know, this sort of "gotcha" feel doesn't really strike me as the most effective way to get this feeling across. This was good, but I wanted it to be even better.
Beautiful, thoughtful and well-written.
do not be in a hurry with this... though it reads quickly, there is an atmosphere, a simplicity to savor. if you love subtle, philosophical stories-without big answers; then this is a great choice!
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