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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 ThiefNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BYTime • The Guardian • Harper's Bazaar • San Francisco Chronicle • The Atlantic • Financial Times • KirkusFinalist 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...
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Street Date:
08/09/2016
Language:
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ISBN:
9780812989793
ASIN:
B0180T0IJU
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APA Citation (style guide)

Teju Cole. (2016). Known and Strange Things: Essays. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Teju Cole. 2016. Known and Strange Things: Essays. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Teju Cole, Known and Strange Things: Essays. Random House Publishing Group, 2016.

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Teju Cole. Known and Strange Things: Essays. Random House Publishing Group, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: 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.
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Known and Strange Things
fullDescription
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...
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Chris Abani, author of Graceland and The Face
      • content: "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."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        May 23, 2016
        Three experiences structure this first nonfiction collection from novelist Cole (Every Day Is for the Thief). The first section, “Reading Things,” offers appreciations of writers, among them Tomas Tranströmer, Sonali Deraniyagala, André Aciman, Ivan Vladislavic, and, especially, W.G. Sebald, whose work raises the same ethical questions Cole asks time and again. The second, “Seeing Things,” explores the work of visual artists, primarily photographers, from places as different as Mali, Russia, France, and South Africa, and casts keen-eyed scrutiny upon photography itself. Cole’s tripartite structure concludes with “Being There.” Throughout, Cole forges unexpected connections, as in “Unnamed Lake,” in which, over the course of one sleepless night, his mind wanders over different historical moments: a Nazi performance of Beethoven at the opening of the extermination camp in Belzec, Poland (1942); the death of the last Tasmanian tiger (1936); a military coup in Nigeria (1966); a ferry disaster in Bangladesh (2014); and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki (1945). 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. As he observes of one writer, “The pleasure of reading him resides in the pleasure of his company”; the same may well be said of Cole. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from May 15, 2016
        A striking collection of essays that will leave readers wanting to reimagine our contemporary environment.In his first work of nonfiction, Cole (Every Day Is for the Thief, 2015, etc.) crafts an anthological book of reflections divided into four parts: "Reading Things," "Seeing Things," "Being Here," and "Epilogue." Without much warning, readers are immediately thrown into the current issues that punctuate the news, social media, and the literary community. Acclaimed as both photographer and art theorist, Cole uses short essays to communicate fundamental ideas about his craft: "a photograph is...a little machine of ironies that contains within it a number of oppositions: light and dark, memory and forgetting, ethics and injustice, permanence and evanescence." The author discusses James Baldwin and Jacques Derrida, and he analyzes the works of various photographers and poets throughout the years. The result is a compilation of essays that call to mind what Walter Benjamin did in his Illuminations: taking cultural works and applying them critically and politically to the now. "The black body comes prejudged, and as a result it is placed in needless jeopardy," writes Cole. In fact, questions of race identity and justice are paramount for the author. "History won't let go of us," he writes. "We're pinned to it." What's clear is that Cole perseveres in breaking away from historical tropes, offering to his readers differing perspectives that emerge from wide-ranging areas of study. "What always interests me--indeed obsesses me--is the way we engage in history," he writes. "Except there is no 'we.' Americans do it differently and, often, irresponsibly and without particular interest." Moments like these will make American readers stop to think, question the population they belong to, and find ways to make it better. The hope that Cole infuses in his prose is mirrored with poetically entrancing sentences: "We are not mayflies. We have known afternoons, and we live day after day for a great many days." A bold, honest, and controversially necessary read.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from July 1, 2016
        Picture a kaleidoscope: each shining component is a small jewel for sure, but taken together, they form a stunning picture that can be viewed from myriad dazzling angles. The same can be said for the social and critical commentary by award-winning novelist Cole (Every Day Is for the Thief, 2015) in this essay collection, his first nonfiction title. The articles analyze various aspects of culture, from poetry, books (a conversation with author Aleksandar Hemon is included here), photography, and more. Cole's insights cast fresh light on even the most quotidian of objects. He shares his reasoning about why all selfies are the same; and, in a beautiful essay about artist-collectors, shows how the very ubiquitousness of pictures in today's digital, smartphone world is leading to our interpreting visual art in new ways. An American brought up in Lagos, Cole places race, especially in the context of an outsider-insider perspective, under the microscope as well. A particularly moving essay discusses the disconnect between the America of his Nigerian imagination and the one he eventually came home to. Cole's collection performs an important service by elevating public discourse in an unsettled time.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 15, 2016

        After two genre-redefining works of fiction--Open City, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Every Day Is for the Thief, named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by Dwight Garner in the New York Times--Cole here lets pour more than 40 of his essays on politics, place, history, literature, and art, on subjects ranging from Virginia Woolf and W.G. Sebald to President Obama, Palestine, and Boko Haram; essays like "The White Industrial Savior Complex" have gone viral. Key here is the paperback format, meant to facilitate broad distribution.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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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 GuardianHarper's Bazaar

Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
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...
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