Known and Strange Things
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Known and Strange Things : Essays

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A blazingly intelligent first book of essays from the award-winning author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time - The Guardian - Harper's Bazaar - San Francisco Chronicle - The Atlantic - Financial Times - Kirkus Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and PEN/Jean Stein Book Award With this collection of more than fifty pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature, Teju Cole solidifies his place as one of today's most powerful and original voices. On page after page, deploying prose dense with beauty and ideas, he finds fresh and potent ways to interpret art, people, and historical moments, taking in subjects from Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare, and W. G. Sebald to Instagram, Barack Obama, and Boko Haram. Cole brings us new considerations of James Baldwin in the age of Black Lives Matter; the African American photographer Roy DeCarava, who, forced to shoot with film calibrated exclusively for white skin tones, found his way to a startling and true depiction of black subjects; and (in an essay that inspired both praise and pushback when it first appeared) the White Savior Industrial Complex, the system by which African nations are sentimentally aided by an America "developed on pillage." Persuasive and provocative, erudite yet accessible, Known and Strange Things is an opportunity to live within Teju Cole's wide-ranging enthusiasms, curiosities, and passions, and a chance to see the world in surprising and affecting new frames. Praise for Known and Strange Things "On every level of engagement and critique, Known and Strange Things is an essential and scintillating journey."--Claudia Rankine, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) "A heady mix of wit, nostalgia, pathos, and a genuine desire to untangle the world, or at the least, to bask in its unending riddles."--The Atlantic "Brilliant . . . [Known and Strange Things] reveals Cole's extraordinary talent and his capacious mind."--Time "[Known and Strange Things] showcases the magnificent breadth of subjects [Cole] is able to plumb with . . . passion and eloquence."--Harper's Bazaar "[Cole is] one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary writing."--LA Times "Cole has fulfilled the dazzling promise of his novels Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City. He ranges over his interests with voracious keenness, laser-sharp prose, an open heart and a clear eye."--The Guardian "Remarkably probing essays . . . Cole is one of only a very few lavishing his focused attention on that most approachable (and perhaps therefore most overlooked) art form, photography."--Chicago Tribune "There's almost no subject Cole can't come at from a startling angle. . . . His [is a] prickly, eclectic, roaming mind."--The Boston Globe "[Cole] brings a subtle, layered perspective to all he encounters."--Vanity Fair "In page after page, Cole upholds the sterling virtue of good writing combined with emotional and intellectual engagement."--The New Statesman "[Known and Strange Things possesses] a passion for justice, a deep sympathy for the poor and the powerless around the world, and a fiery moral outrage."--Poets and Writersshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 393 pages
  • 130 x 201 x 23mm | 318g
  • Random House Trade
  • United States
  • English
  • 2 8-PP COLOR PHOTO INSERTS
  • 0812989783
  • 9780812989786
  • 114,350

Review quote

"On every level of engagement and critique, Known and Strange Things is an essential and scintillating journey."--Claudia Rankine, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) "A heady mix of wit, nostalgia, pathos, and a genuine desire to untangle the world, or at the least, to bask in its unending riddles."--The Atlantic "Brilliant . . . [Known and Strange Things] reveals Cole's extraordinary talent and his capacious mind."--Time "[Cole is] one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary writing."--LA Times "[Teju] Cole has fulfilled the dazzling promise of his novels Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City."--The Guardian "Remarkably probing."--Chicago Tribune "There's almost no subject Cole can't come at from a startling angle. . . . His [is a] prickly, eclectic, roaming mind."--The Boston Globe "[A] dazzlingly wide-ranging collection."--San Francisco Chronicle "[Cole] brings a subtle, layered perspective to all he encounters."--Vanity Fair "Erudite and wide-ranging . . . Mr. Cole proves himself a modern Renaissance man."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Teju Cole proves the twenty-first-century essay is in fine fettle."--The New Statesman "[Known and Strange Things possesses] a passion for justice, a deep sympathy for the poor and the powerless around the world, and a fiery moral outrage."--Poets and Writers "Bold, thoughtful essays."--Minneapolis Star Tribune "We have in Cole . . . a continuation of [James] Baldwin's legacy; he's an observer and truth-seeker of the highest order."--The Seattle Times "Essays pulse with the possible; the best ones gesture at unexplored territories. But they feel most satisfying where the author has followed his ideas to places the reader hadn't thought to visit. Known and Strange Things contains many essays that do this beautifully, combining the thoughtful pause with insistent questioning, tumbling over different terrains, picking up bits of them as they go, taking on the grain and texture of all the places they've been."--Financial Times "An immersive experience into a wide-ranging set of concerns, memorably conveyed onto the page."--Men's Journal "[Cole] displays infectious inquisitiveness as an essayist."--O: The Oprah Magazine "[Known and Strange Things] showcases the magnificent breadth of subjects [Cole] is able to plumb with . . . passion and eloquence."--Harper's Bazaar "Erudite, committed and finely observed."--The Age "[Known and Strange Things reveals] fascinating aspects of Cole's searching and unusual mind . . . omnivorously exploring everything from Virginia Woolf to his now-famous essay on the White Savior Industrial Complex."--The Washington Post "Cole combines the rigor of a critic with the curiosity of Everyman."--BookPage "A bold, honest, and controversially necessary read."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Cole is a literary performance artist, his words meticulously chosen and deployed with elegance and force. To read, see, and travel with him is to be changed by the questions that challenge him."--Publishers Weekly "Cole's insights cast fresh light on even the most quotidian of objects . . . [and his] collection performs an important service by elevating public discourse in an unsettled time."--Booklist (starred review) "A terrific collection of essays from one of our greatest public intellectuals."--Vox "Cole's writing is masterful and lyrical and politically and socially engaged, and he is probably one of the most interesting African writers at work today."--Chris Abani, author of Graceland and The Face "The forms of resistance depend on the culture they resist, and in our era of generalizations and approximations and sloppiness, Teju Cole's precise and vivid observation and description are an antidote and a joy. This is a book written with a scalpel, a microscope, and walking shoes, full of telling details and sometimes big surprises."--Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me "Absolutely wonderful . . . Teju Cole is so erudite, so laser sharp, that his intelligence shimmers, but best of all, his personality shines through as being kind and generous. I found myself transported and moved deeply."--Petina Gappah, author of The Book of Memoryshow more

About Teju Cole

Teju Cole was born in the United States in 1975 and raised in Nigeria. He is the author of Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York City Book Award, and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His photography has been exhibited in India and the United States. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.show more

Review Text

"On every level of engagement and critique, Known and Strange Things is an essential and scintillating journey." -Claudia Rankine, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) "A heady mix of wit, nostalgia, pathos, and a genuine desire to untangle the world, or at the least, to bask in its unending riddles." - The Atlantic "Brilliant . . . [ Known and Strange Things ] reveals Cole's extraordinary talent and his capacious mind." - Time "[Cole is] one of the most vibrant voices in contemporary writing." - LA Times "[Teju] Cole has fulfilled the dazzling promise of his novels Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City ." - The Guardian "Remarkably probing." - Chicago Tribune "There's almost no subject Cole can't come at from a startling angle. . . . His [is a] prickly, eclectic, roaming mind." - The Boston Globe "[A] dazzlingly wide-ranging collection." - San Francisco Chronicle "[Cole] brings a subtle, layered perspective to all he encounters." - Vanity Fair "Erudite and wide-ranging . . . Mr. Cole proves himself a modern Renaissance man." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Teju Cole proves the twenty-first-century essay is in fine fettle." - The New Statesman "[ Known and Strange Things possesses] a passion for justice, a deep sympathy for the poor and the powerless around the world, and a fiery moral outrage." - Poets and Writers "Bold, thoughtful essays." -Minneapolis Star Tribune "We have in Cole . . . a continuation of [James] Baldwin's legacy; he's an observer and truth-seeker of the highest order." - The Seattle Times "Essays pulse with the possible; the best ones gesture at unexplored territories. But they feel most satisfying where the author has followed his ideas to places the reader hadn't thought to visit. Known and Strange Things contains many essays that do this beautifully, combining the thoughtful pause with insistent questioning, tumbling over different terrains, picking up bits of them as they go, taking on the grain and texture of all the places they've been." - Financial Times "An immersive experience into a wide-ranging set of concerns, memorably conveyed onto the page." - Men's Journal "[Cole] displays infectious inquisitiveness as an essayist." - O: The Oprah Magazine "[ Known and Strange Things ] showcases the magnificent breadth of subjects [Cole] is able to plumb with . . . passion and eloquence." - Harper's Bazaar "Erudite, committed and finely observed." - The Age "[ Known and Strange Things reveals] fascinating aspects of Cole's searching and unusual mind . . . omnivorously exploring everything from Virginia Woolf to his now-famous essay on the White Savior Industrial Complex." - The Washington Post "Cole combines the rigor of a critic with the curiosity of Everyman." - BookPage "A bold, honest, and controversially necessary read." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Cole is a literary performance artist, his words meticulously chosen and deployed with elegance and force. To read, see, and travel with him is to be changed by the questions that challenge him." - Publishers Weekly "Cole's insights cast fresh light on even the most quotidian of objects . . . [and his] collection performs an important service by elevating public discourse in an unsettled time." - Booklist (starred review) "A terrific collection of essays from one of our greatest public intellectuals." - Vox "Cole's writing is masterful and lyrical and politically and socially engaged, and he is probably one of the most interesting African writers at work today ."-Chris Abani, author of Graceland and The Face "The forms of resistance depend on the culture they resist, and in our era of generalizations and approximations and sloppiness, Teju Cole's precise and vivid observation and description are an antidote and a joy. This is a book written with a scalpel, a microscope, and walking shoes, full of telling details and sometimes big surprises."show more
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