Cynthia's Reviews > Open City

Open City by Teju Cole
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's review
Feb 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: books-read-in-2011
Read from February 18 to 20, 2011

Julius, a Nigerian immigrant, comes to America and becomes a psychiatrist. He also focuses his acute eyes on the City of New York as he habitually walks her streets. He’s a classic introvert who’s more comfortable listening than talking. Cole’s writing is engaging as he ties his creation, Julius, to Coetzee’s ubiquitous character Elizabeth Costello and it’s a valid comparison in many ways. Both protagonists are perpetual visitors even as they live for years in one place. Neither Julius nor Elizabeth seems to become a part of their environments. They remain clear eyed outsiders. They also share a penchant for philosophy in fact there’s not much plot in this book. Julius reflects on his African upbringing, his trip to Brussels where he has reason to believe his maternal grandmother lives or lived though he does nothing to find her, and then of course there’s his North American sojourn where he sits at his apartment window listening to classical music, watching the birds migrant and thinking. He loves to wander the city observing people, looking at the architecture, looking for incongruities, and having odd encounters with strangers. There is something strangely fascinating about Cole’s book. Just as Coatzee threads Costello through many of his books I see Cole doing the same with his Julius. I look forward to reading more from this fresh new writing voice. Cole has much to say about politics, human relationships, art, racism, the interplay between place and the individuals, classical music though he leaves two key mysteries dangling at the end of the book which marred my complete enjoyment of his book. I hope this is an excuse for him to write a follow up book.


I'm reading a section from this book where the protagonist travels to Belgium and as my (incredibly) vague tie in someone shared this clip with me that I love:
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-14 of 14) </span> <span class="smallText">(14 new)</span>

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message 1: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Fun! Love all the different age groups included, esp the youngsters. :)

Cynthia I loved the reactions from the crowd. And the switch up in the beat half way through.

message 3: by Nannie (new) - added it

Nannie Bittinger I want an excercise video that would teach me to do that!!!:)

Cynthia lol Nannie. I think the folks who produce 'So You Think you Can Dance' have some.

message 5: by Joan (new) - added it

Joan Winnek What a joyful video!

Cynthia Joan wrote: "What a joyful video!"

Wasn't that fun Joan?

message 7: by Joan (new) - added it

Joan Winnek It made my day. I posted it on facebook.

I've also ordered the book, which sounds fascinating. (And I promised myself I wouldn't buy any more books until I read the ones I have.)

Cynthia Thanks for the like Mag. This is my favorite book so far this year.

·Karen· Disappointing! The video is not available in my country.:-((

message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I do enjoy these videos. People respond to these events with such joy!
I assume this was an extra, not a tie-in with the book.

Cynthia No real tie in though one of the best parts of the book was when he travled to Belgium for a month's was a highlight for me and coincidentally a friend happened to send me that link a few days ago.

message 12: by Joan (new) - added it

Joan Winnek My copy came from Amazon today, can hardly wait to read it. But I have to read What the Dog Saw for my book club first--our meeting is less than two weeks away. Of course, I always love Malcolm Gladwell.

The video is so charming. Why can't Karen get it in Germany? After all, an Egyptian just named his newborn daughter Facebook, and I posted it there. If Egypt gets facebook, why not Germany?

Cynthia lol I hadn't heard that Joan. Facebook is a good name as long as it's synonymous with 'freedom'. I sure wish these new democracies well. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Cole's book when you get to it. Weird that Karen can't view the video.

message 14: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I have no answer to the puzzle of inability to connect with the link, but I have noticed that our European friends aren't able to do so sometimes.

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