Open city : a novel / Teju Cole.
Booklist Reviews 2010 December #2
Nigerian immigrant Julius, a young graduate student studying psychiatry in New York City, has recently broken up with his girlfriend and spends most of his time dreamily walking around Manhattan. The majority of Open City centers on Julius' inner thoughts as he rambles throughout the city, painting scenes of both what occurs around him and past events that he can't help but dwell on. For reasons not altogether clear, Julius' walks turn into worldwide travel, and he flies first to Europe, where he has an unplanned one-night stand and makes some interesting friends, then to Nigeria, and finally back to New York City. Along the way, he meets many people and often has long discussions with them about philosophy and politics. Brought up in a military school, he seems to welcome these conversations. Upon returning to New York, he meets a young Nigerian woman who profoundly changes the way he sees himself. Readers who enjoy stream-of-consciousness narratives and fiction infused with politics will find this unique and pensive book a charming read. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2010 November #1
Cole's first novel, after the novella Every Day Is for the Thief, is getting a 25,000-copy first printing. Julius, the doctor protagonist, is a Nigerian immigrant in New York encountering people whose lives tell of earlier immigrant experiences.[Page 72]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2010 November #2
One of the most intriguing novels you'll likely read, this debut by Nigerian-born Cole is constructed in what appears to be a traditional novel format but is riddled with ambiguity. By the end, there is so much disjuncture that readers will wonder whether the protagonist is the classic unreliable narrator. Julius, a half-Nigerian, half-German psychiatry intern living in New York, takes to walking about the city after breaking up with his girlfriend; his numerous encounters cause him to reflect on his own life. Julius seems depressed, though his story does not depict him as such. The overall weight of the ponderous first-person narrative appears to point to the essential loneliness of the human condition. Most disturbing is Julius's lack of any reaction to a startling personal revelation in the final pages, and this leaves the impression that the book is meant to show the workings of a highly intelligent yet unstable character. VERDICT The alienated but sophisticated viewpoint is oddly poignant and compelling. Fans of introspection may enjoy this work, which reads like Camus's L'etranger meets Samuel R. Delaney's Dahlgren without the sf but with the same lack of closure.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos P.L., CA[Page 58]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2010 November #1
Possibly the only negative thing to say about Cole's intelligent and panoramic first novel is that it is a more generous account of the recent past than the era deserves. America's standing in the world is never far from the restless thoughts of psychiatry resident Julius, a Nigerian immigrant who wanders Manhattan, pondering everything from Goya and the novels of J.M. Coetzee to the bankruptcy of Tower Records and the rise of the bedbug epidemic. In other words, it is an ongoing reverie in the tradition of W.G. Sebald or Nicholson Baker, but with the welcome interruptions of the friends and strangers Julius meets as he wanders Penn Station, the Upper West Side, and Brussels during a short holiday, and amid discussions of Alexander Hamilton, black identity, and the far left--a truly American novel emerges. Julius pines over a recent ex, mourns the death of a friend, goes to movies, concerts, and museums, but above all he ruminates, and the picture of a mind that emerges in lieu of a plot is fascinating, as it is engaged with the world in a rare and refreshing way. (Feb.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC