“When I write, I have a sort of secret kinship of readers in all countries who don't know each other but each of whom, when they read my book, feels at home in it. So I write for those readers. It's almost a sense of writing for a specific person, but it's a specific person who I don't know.” – Teju Cole
A writer, photographer, and art historian, Cole was born on this date in 1975 in Kalamazoo, MI, to Nigerian parents, the oldest of four children. After growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Cole moved back to the United States at the age of 17 to attend college and never left the U.S. again. He is a 1996 graduate of Kalamazoo College.
He has authored several books, including the multiple award-winning Open City, a terrific story of a young Nigerian immigrant in Manhattan. Cole’s essays, creative photography, and use of social media also have drawn the attention of numerous critics and other writers. Salman Rushdie called him “the most gifted of today’s younger generation of writers.” Cole has been distinguished writer in residence at Bard College and is a regular contributor to The New York Times and The New Yorker. He’s attracted a worldwide following for his interesting and thoughtful almost daily – some label them “poetic” – posts on Twitter.
“I'm not trying to be a poet on Twitter,” he said. “I'm trying to be aware of the fact that a very simple sentence, well written, can have a very moving effect without that person knowing why. (As a reader) There's a deep genetic part of you that somehow, even without your permission, recognizes good language when it arrives.”