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On The Corner Masthead


February 3, 2017 | by Rusty Aceves

Teju Cole - photo by Tim Knox

Here's five things you should know about Teju Cole, and his collaboration with SFJAZZ Resident Artist Vijay Iyer

  1. The Nigerian-American writer and photographer was born in the U.S. and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. He’s currently based in Brooklyn 
  2. He has written three books, including the autobiographical novella Every Day is for the Thief, a compendium of essays called Known and Strange Things, and the novel Open City, which is the source material for his collaboration of the same name with Vijay Iyer. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won PEN/Hemingway Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York City Book Award for Fiction. Time Magazine called it “a profoundly original work, intellectually stimulating and possessing of a style both engaging and seductive” 
  3. Cole is currently the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College, and he has been a regular contributor to The New York TimesThe New YorkerBrickTransition, and others. His monthly column in The New York Times Magazine was a finalist for the National Magazine Award last year. The acclaimed novelist Salman Rushdie called Cole “among the most gifted writers of his generation,” and he was awarded the 2015 Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction as well as a US Artists award 
  4. Commissioned by Montclair State University and premiered in 2013, Iyer and Cole’s collaboration Open City is an interdisciplinary project blending composed and improvised sections with a large and diverse lineup of artists that mirrors Cole’s novel, which examines city life from a variety of cultural perspectives 
  5. Cole’s photography was the subject of a 2016 solo exhibition in Milan entitled Punto d'ombra. Random House will publish these images and their accompanying text in June as Cole’s fourth book, Blind Spot. A timely project that investigates humanity’s voluntary blindness to tragedy and injustice throughout history, this material is the source for the other half of Vijay Iyer’s multi-media collaboration with Cole on 2/10