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Known and Strange Things: Book summary and reviews of Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole

Known and Strange Things

Essays

by Teju Cole

Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole X
Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole
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  • Published Aug 2016
    416 pages
    Genre: Essays

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Book Summary

A blazingly intelligent first book of essays from the award-winning author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A bold, honest, and controversially necessary read." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. 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... 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 "[Teju] 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

"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

This information about Known and Strange Things was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

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.

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