Every Day Is for the Thief
Every Day Is for the Thief
By Teju Cole
Random House, Hardcover, 9780812995787, 162pp.
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
NATIONAL BESTSELLER FINALIST, PHILLIS WHEATLEY BOOK AWARD TEJU COLE WAS NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL AFRICANS OF THE YEAR BY NEW AFRICAN MAGAZINE
For readers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Michael Ondaatje, Every Day Is for the Thief is a wholly original work of fiction by Teju Cole, whose critically acclaimed debut, Open City, was the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named one of the best books of the year by more than twenty publications.
Fifteen years is a long time to be away from home. It feels longer still because I left under a cloud.
A young Nigerian living in New York City goes home to Lagos for a short visit, finding a city both familiar and strange. In a city dense with story, the unnamed narrator moves through a mosaic of life, hoping to find inspiration for his own. He witnesses the yahoo yahoo diligently perpetrating email frauds from an Internet cafe, longs after a mysterious woman reading on a public bus who disembarks and disappears into a bookless crowd, and recalls the tragic fate of an eleven-year-old boy accused of stealing at a local market.
Along the way, the man reconnects with old friends, a former girlfriend, and extended family, taps into the energies of Lagos life creative, malevolent, ambiguous and slowly begins to reconcile the profound changes that have taken place in his country and the truth about himself.
In spare, precise prose that sees humanity everywhere, interwoven with original photos by the author, Every Day Is for the Thief originally published in Nigeria in 2007 is a wholly original work of fiction. This revised and updated edition is the first version of this unique book to be made available outside Africa. You ve never read a book like Every Day Is for the Thief because no one writes like Teju Cole.
Praise for Every Day Is for the Thief
A luminous rumination on storytelling and place, exile and return . . . extraordinary. San Francisco Chronicle
Cole is following in a long tradition of writerly walkers who, in the tradition of Baudelaire, make their way through urban spaces on foot and take their time doing so. Like Alfred Kazin, Joseph Mitchell, J. M. Coetzee, and W. G. Sebald (with whom he is often compared), Cole adds to the literature in his own zeitgeisty fashion. The Boston Globe
Crisp, affecting . . . Cole constructs a narrative of fragments, a series of episodes that he allows to resonate. The New York Times Book Review
Hugely rewarding . . . both a celebration of one of the world's most vibrant cities and a lament over what can be one of the most frustrating and difficult places to live. It is also a story of family breakup and an uneasy homecoming the narrator has been away for fifteen years and must relearn how to navigate a place that was once home. NPR
Every Day Is for the Thief has] a restraint that allows Cole] to slip in these exquisitely rendered observations on life, love, art that leave you feeling richer and more attuned to your own reality once you ve finished reading. Dinaw Mengestu, The Atlantic
“[Teju Cole’s] novels are lean, expertly sustained performances. The places he can go, you feel, are just about limitless.”—The New York Times
“Every Day Is for the Thief, by turns funny, mournful, and acerbic, offers a portrait of Nigeria in which anger, perhaps the most natural response to the often lamentable state of affairs there, is somehow muted and deflected by the author’s deep engagement with the country: a profoundly disenchanted love. Teju Cole is among the most gifted writers of his generation.”—Salman Rushdie
“Crisp, affecting . . . Taking his cues from W. G. Sebald, John Berger, and Bruce Chatwin, Cole constructs a narrative of fragments, a series of episodes that he allows to resonate.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Remarkable . . . a luminous rumination on storytelling and place, exile and return . . . This is an extraordinary novel, a radiant meditation on the nature of happiness and faith, corruption, misfortune and belonging.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Shimmering . . . Cole has a way of superimposing emotional landscapes over his portraits of physical places that is transcendent. Every Day Is for the Thief is as much as an epic journey into the heart of the traveler as the place traveled.”—The Seattle Times
“Every Day Is for the Thief is a wonderful meditation on modern African life that will help cement Cole’s reputation as a prose stylist. More than that, it is a book that never fails to find a thoughtful and essential thing to say, with each of its finely crafted sentences and paragraphs offering a vision of justice and order to a people beset by so many woes.”—Los Angeles Times
“[A] tightly focused but still marvelously capacious little novel . . . built with cool originality . . . The house of literature [Cole] is busy creating is an in-between space with fluid dimensions, resisting entrenchment.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Cole is following in a long tradition of writerly walkers who, in the tradition of Baudelaire, make their way through urban spaces on foot and take their time doing so. Like Alfred Kazin, Joseph Mitchell, J. M. Coetzee, and W. G. Sebald (with whom he is often compared), Cole adds to the literature in his own zeitgeisty fashion. His wanderer, however, is not man of leisure, soaking up the richness of Paris or New York. The unnamed walker of Every Day moves with urgency, and does so in a cityscape that threatens to slide, avalanche-like, into violence.”—The Boston Globe
“Every Day Is for the Thief holds something for people with all levels of familiarity with Nigeria. It is an introduction and a provocation, a beautifully simple portrait and a nuanced examination. It invites you to steal a glimpse of Lagos.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A worthy precursor and, in a way, a companion piece to Cole’s highly acclaimed Open City . . . Cole’s narrator is compelling—someone with whom you want to spend time ambling, looking and chatting. I was happy to be along for the journey.”—The Plain Dealer
“[Every Day Is for the Thief] expands and reinforces the accomplishments of Open City, confirming along the way that Teju is one of the foremost—for the lack of a better term—bicultural writers.”—Aleksandar Hemon, Bomb
“Every Day Is for the Thief is a vivid, episodic evocation of the truism that you can’t go home again; but that doesn’t mean you’re not free to try. A return to his native Nigeria plunges Cole’s charming narrator into a tempest of chaos, contradiction, and kinship in a place both endearingly familiar and unnervingly strange. The result is a tale that engages and disturbs.”—Billy Collins
“Rich imagery and sharp prose . . . widely praised as one of the best fictional depictions of Africa in recent memory.”—The New Yorker
“Every Day Is for the Thief is unapologetically a novel of ideas: a diagnosis of the systemic corruption in Cole’s native Lagos and of corruption’s psychological effects. But, remarkably, the book avoids any of the chunkiness that usually accompanies such work. Emotional and intellectual life are woven too tightly together. The ideas make the character and vice versa.”—The New Republic
“Every Day Is for the Thief is a testament to [Nigeria’s] power to inspire.”—Vanity Fair
“Excellently crafted . . . Optimism regarding the future of [Nigeria] pulsates steadily . . . through [Every Day Is for the Thief].”—The Huffington Post
“Every Day Is for the Thief is an amazing hybrid of a book. Imaginative, original, experimental, and sensual, this book revisits the way narrative is constructed with tenderness and style.”—Chris Abani, author of Graceland
“[Cole] revels in ambiguity, taking inspiration from authors who have toyed with what a novel can be, like W. G. Sebald, J. M. Coetzee and V. S. Naipaul. . . . There is a touch of Alfred Kazin and Joseph Mitchell—two of the most observant walkers in [New York City’s] history—in his books’ open-eyed flaneurs.”—New York Observer
“It’s a novella, it’s a travel journal, it’s a laundry list of methods of thievery, it’s an examination of Nigerian societal norms, it’s the lamentations of an outsider, it’s a photo album. That Cole pulls this off at all is commendable. That it was his first book is a marvel.”—The A.V. Club
“A Teju Cole novel is a reading experience matched by few contemporary writers.”—Flavorwire
“Omnivorous and mesmerizing . . . it is a pleasure to be in [the narrator’s] company.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Beautifully written . . . The Lagos presented here teems with stories.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Versatile, courageous, and hopeful . . . Cole writes without shock absorbers, and the ride is as terrifying as it is gorgeously set.”—Interview
In Teju Cole's newest, elliptical novel, an unnamed narrator visits his native country, alarmed at what has changed, and at what hasn't. More at NPR.org
Teju Cole's latest book describes a young New York doctor's visit back to his Nigerian hometown, where he encounters a Clockwork Orange world of misery and corruption. More at NPR.org
Teju Cole writes of a young man's return to Nigeria in Every Day Is for the Thief. He says his narrator is "somebody who's been away a long time and doesn't want to pretty up the picture at all." More at NPR.org