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In celebration of Simon Fraser University’s 50th anniversary, SFU Library launched One Book, One SFU.

Teju Cole’s original and superbly subtle first novel, Open City, was the inaugural chosen book. Attendees joined Teju Cole and Eleanor Wachtel, host and co-founder of CBC Radio's Writers & Company, to explore Cole’s work, the power of cities, and the lure of literature.

Copies of Open City are available to all members of the SFU community at Bennett, Belzberg, and Fraser Libraries.

Notes about the book

Teju Cole is an internationally acclaimed Nigerian-American writer and photographer. Cole’s deeply emotional yet unmistakably non-sentimental novel, Open City, provokes its readers to grapple with urbanism’s transcendent as well as oppressive possibilities.

While Open City is ambitious in scope and unapologetically literate in its frames of reference, it is also accessible. On its fundamental level, Open City is about Julius, a young Nigerian-German psychiatry fellow at Columbia Presbyterian in New York City. We meet him in the autumn of 2006 after a recent breakup with his girlfriend, Nadege. Almost immediately, Cole’s invitation to walk the streets of New York (and briefly Brussels) with his protagonist becomes impossible to resist. Through Julius’ many interactions and ruminations, the novel is revealed as a nuanced account of the urban immigrant experience, a hesitant love letter to cities, and a witness to the many atrocities of human history. Lastly, in a devastating and powerful turn of plot, the reader is forced to redefine the book, laying bare the murkiness of the most seductive of stories.

Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College and photography critic of the New York Times Magazine. He has lectured widely, from the Harvard Graduate School of Design to Twitter Headquarters, and gave the 2014 Kenan Distinguished Lecture in Ethics at Duke University. He was awarded the 2015 Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction.

Eleanor Wachtel is the host and co-founder of CBC Radio's Writers & Company, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and won the New York Festivals Award. She also co-founded and hosts Wachtel on the Arts. Her most recent books are Original Minds and Random Illuminations: Conversations with Carol Shields, which won the Independent Publisher Book Award. Wachtel has received many honours for her contributions to Canadian cultural life: eight honorary degrees (including from Simon Fraser University, the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, McGill University, Concordia, and Dalhousie) as well as Officer of the Order of Canada.

Reviews of Open City in selected publications:
New York Times
The New Yorker
New York Review of Books 
The Daily Beast


Thu, 05 Nov 2015



Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver




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