Open City

Teju Cole

Russell Hoban has one of his characters say of  the weather in Amsterdam that “one would be ashamed to draw badly in that light”, and Teju Cole’s novel makes me feel that my clunking prose can’t do it justice. Narrated by a psychiatrist of Nigerian and German parentage who practices at a hospital in New York City, its meditative style is reminiscent of W. G. Sebald, and its moral seriousness (that’s too pompous a phrase, but I can’t think of any other way to put it) and artful use of omissions and silence made me think of Henry James. There’s a patience and strength to this novel that stay with the reader.

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