Teju Cole, author of Open City and Every Day is For The Thief, will publish his first book of essays with Random House in 2016: a collection called Known and Strange Things. The 40-plus essays in the book will span art, literature, and politics (Cole is the photography critic for New York Times Magazine), with topics from Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin to President Obama and Boko Haram. The collection will include pre-published essays that gone viral, like “The White Industrial Savior Complex,” first published in The Atlantic.
Cole recently made headlines as one of the intial six dissenters in the protests against PEN America’s decision to award French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo a “Freedom of Expression Courage Award,” a controversy that caused an enormous rift in the literary world.
He’s perhaps best known for his innovative use of Twitter, using the platform to write short stories in 140-character snippets, and compile others through retweets. “Twitter engages the part of me that makes sentences,” Cole told Wired in 2014. “I try to shape a sentence that works.” He continued:
But I read poetry regularly. And poetry is where I see that every single line has a certain punch and precision to it. Being on Twitter has allowed me to participate in a similar kind of practice. When you’re writing fiction and longform prose, you think about the best sentences, of course, and you work on them. But when you’re tweeting, the sentences are isolated, they’re naked, and so there is that much more scrutiny on how they work.