Open City, By Teju Cole


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The Independent Culture

A young Nigerian psychiatrist wanders through Manhattan, "this strangest of islands". He meets, and hears the stories of, other migrant New Yorkers. He reflects on his African background and revisits a disorienting spell in Brussels. And he digresses on the topics that worry or inspire him, from Mahler's music and mental health to the local curse of bedbugs.

Hypnotic, transfixing, the voice in Teju Cole's mesmeric first novel takes in its ambling stride both the minute particulars of modern Manhattan life and the broad canvas of globalisation.

In its melancholy, lyrical tour of the dark passageways that run between history, art and memory, this striking debut may bring to mind the work of WG Sebald – and, in particular, Austerlitz.