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Mr. Cole philosophical walks through New York prove a fascinating read. Open City provides an everyday insight on live in New York City. It might prove highbrow at times, and the detour in Belgium may appear like an unlikely aside, but overall the novel is well written.
Mientras pasea por la ciudad el protagonista nos adentra en Nueva York,con una visión muy personal y nos introduce en su vida,pasada y presente. Nos quedamos con algunas incognitas sobre su relaciones personales que nos gustaría saber. Excelente en su escritura;vocabulario y sintaxis.
Teju Cole's debut novel, Open City, is a loose yet dense narrative which characterises a cruel, sensitive globalisation through the peregrinations of a young Nigerian-German doctor in New York.
It's true that New York City could embody everything all on its own - ritual, roots, ruin, plus their opposites, but Mr. Cole's thoughtful and observant writing is what sets aside his portrayal. An aimless walk downtown sets the scene for a spectacular account of a beached albino whale and a link with Dutch history (further explored in a trip to Brussels). An art gallery brings together early American painting, a treatise on deafness, and simple human contact. There were scores of similar conjunctions. Classical music, was a running theme, as were the ideas behind mental health and the failures of family and relationships. I thought this was such a smart and generous perspective: "what psychiatry really ought to be about: provisional, hesitant, and as kind as possible..."
There were many beautiful lines - these are only a few:
"all lovers live on partial knowledge..."
"the sudden metallic green of a subway train hurtling by, exposed to the elements where it crossed the work site, a livid vein drawn across the neck of 9/11..."
"My hands held metal, my eyes starlight..."
"the jagged little branches would unfold their hidden wings and the entire crown of the tree would become a living cloud..."
"there really is an epidemic of sorrow sweeping our world..."
In the end, what I liked about "Open City" - its history and connectivity - the fact that these disparate political and social elements weren't forced together, but lay sometimes naturally, sometimes uncomfortably side by side, was also what made the narration feel crowded. And in some cases, the writing felt clinical or removed. That said, it was a good read, dense and deep, and I look forward to Mr. Cole's coming books.
If you have to have a plot, don’t read this. It is beautiful descriptions of New York, Belgium, Africa and you do feel like you are there experiencing the environment and the people. The plot is either nonexistent or subtle (as one review termed it). I liked the different voice of a highly cultured Nigerian. His musical references were out of my league but I’m now trying to listen to Mahler. This book is different from the pack. Recommend to readers searching for a new viewpoint.
This book is extremely well written and I even quoted parts in a blog post, but the lead character Julian leaves me feeling completely detached, alone and uninspired. Perhaps this is a brilliant, contemporary novel, but I personally like to connect emotionally or intellectually with the narrator, and I couldn't. There are also many issues left unresolved that need resolution. I will not go into detail for fear of upsetting the plot. I read this at first in print and then switched to the kindle and found myself highlighting many brilliant passages. I also enjoyed the multi-dimensional insight into the black experience in the U.S.; discussions about being Muslim and black through the perspective of a young man the narrator meets in Belgium, and the many descriptions of New York. But the loneliness, disconnectedness and coldness of the lead was disconcerting.
Narrative of a contemplative African - Dutch psychiatrist in training in New York, his thoughtful observations and relationships and private thoughts. There were some wonderful intimate insights and descriptions. I was particularly intrigued by his loving analysis of the life of Mahler and his music.
Thoughtfully and beautifully written almost as a stream of consciousness. Not a perfect novel, but well worth reading. It's particularly fun if you're from N.Y. The descriptions of walking around the city are vivid, although sometimes not particularly accurate. But it's a novel, not a memoir, so there's some poetic license allowed. Who is this person? What is the truth? What is his truth? Lots of questions, but the answers must be your own.
There has been a pleasant spate of novels about American immigrants, a lot from first-time novelists, and many of them worthwhile reads. My favorite of these books is the "Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears", but I was pleasantly surprised by "Open City".
Teju Cole shows a lot of promise with his debut novel as he introduces us to a psychiatric resident, Julius, and his "meandering" through a post-9/11 NYC. Cole captures more than a recast and familiar face of NY, although we do see some of that, but brings us the city from the eyes of this complex character and his relationship with women, race, politics and death. Cole captured surprising moments of intimacy as well as moments of anger and violence with a melodic style of writing. And while the book is one of NY, some of its more powerful writing, especially the dialogue, occurs when Julius goes to Belgium to ostensibly find his grandmother. There he encounters an Arab immigrant managing a internet/phone cafe and they engage in spirited political and religous debate in the store and over meals.
"Open City" will appeal to the reader who enjoys nuance and a slower tempo, for those who enjoy the early Sunday lull of a sunny Manhattan morning rather than the chaos of Monday morning rush hour at Grand Central Station or the Time Square subway station. Why the four stars rather than five? My only criticism was the conclusion of the book. I won't reveal the details, but I was disappointment with the final arc of the story, one that I didn't feel Cole adequately presaged earlier in the novel. Whilte that might have been Cole's intent, it forced me to reconsider the rest of the book and Julius without providing enough substance on that part of his personality.
Overall, "Open City" is a very strong debut from Cole and I look forward to reading more from him in the future and to see the development of his voice and talent.