2018 - 2019: Teju Cole

Teju Cole

Award winning author Teju Cole will deliver three lectures at the University of Chicago in the Spring of 2019. 

About Teju Cole

A prodigious novelist, critic, and photographer, Teju Cole was born in the US and raised in Nigeria—a biographical fact that informs much of his work. His first novel, Open City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award. His second, Every Day Is for the Thief, was named a Book of the Year by The New York Times. Most recently, Cole produced Blind Spot—a synthesis of written observations and travel photography.

Cole combines his eye for beauty with his capacity to perceive human and civic truth. He explores this convergence in Blind Spot: a gorgeous collection of his own full-color photos, each accompanied by selections of lyrical prose that explore “the mysteries of the ordinary” (The New York Times Book Review), and was named one of TIME’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2017. His previous title, Known and Strange Things was also named to that same list in 2016, as well as Kirkus Reviews’ Best Nonfiction of 2016 list, in addition to being named a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay as well as for the inaugural PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, “which recognizes a book length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact.” Known collects a series of essays that span art, literature, and politics, with topics from Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin to President Obama and Boko Haram.

His first novel, Open City, was awarded the Rosenthal Family Foundation Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, and the Internationaler Literaturpreis; nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, and a prize from the Royal Society of Literature; and was named one of the best books of the year The Guardian, Newsweek, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many others.

His novella, Every Day Is for the Thief, has been “widely praised as one of the best fictional depictions of Africa in recent memory” (The New Yorker) and was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, the Telegraph, The Globe and Mail, and NPR. His body of work has been recognized with Yale University’s Windham Campbell Prize, a US Artists Zell Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Cole is a contributor to many leading journals and magazines. He has lectured widely on a variety of subjects, from contemporary ethics to literary studies. He is the Photography Critic of The New York Times Magazine and the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard University.