‘Encouraging and stupendous’ – These are the exact words I called out after reading this twenty-one chapter book by Teju Cole. After reading the fleeting reviews on the front cover of the book, I became very much susceptible to completing the book within a forseeable time. ‘Open City’ being his debut novel gave me a certain vertiginous feel to see what a debut novel basically entails. In no order of importance or lucidity, below are my summarised notions of the aforementioned novel by Teju Cole.
The subject matter of the novel is one that time and time again has been told but the manner in which Teju Cole interweaves the adventures of Julius, the persona of the story is indeed worthy of commendation. The decisive appendages with which the story is told add a subliming and meritorious flair to the story in its entirety. As a reader, who seems to have no ears for classical music, the book passes out dignifying information on this sort of music. At least I now know that Gustav Mahler’s name can never be overlooked when dissecting the forebearers of classical music.
The writer also brings into light a detailed aspect of photography which further deepens the rubric through which the various fragments of the story is told, marking out each detail with perfection. His enviable knowledge of colour takes the reader through a verified chronology of thought, making the reader play a formidabble role in the story, perhaps shadowing the footsteps of the persona or consequently rendering Julius, the persona to others as the gem of his trade.
The manner in which the writer highlights his daily interactions with his patients during his residency is one aspect of the story which is highly revealing amidst the rattling of the trains in New York, the brightness of the neon lights in and around Wall Street and his once-in-a-while meetings with his friend Moji or his girlfriend Nadège. The sublimity of his day-to-day administrations is a spectacle to behold while the camaraderie between him and the old professor, who later dies, gives a lingering stain on the reader’s mind.
The story spans through three continents, making it appealing and very much informative. He touches on delicate subjects that are mostly discussed at home, that is, within the auspices of a selected few. Julius’ transition from Nigeria to the United States mimicks a turning point to his adventures and the life before him. Sooner than later, he feels integrated in the fibre of his new surroundings but winter is something that he always overestimate. The writer does well by bringing in once-in-a-while the preconceptions in Nigeria with regard to military school while his brief visits to Brussels add a little bit of spark.
I would say that the diction used by the writer is professional and very educative and the reader is more likely to agree more than often to the actions of the persona. In an instance, Dr. Maillotte, the woman Julius meets in the plane from New York to Brussels reiterates that ‘If you are too loyal to your own suffering, you forget that others suffer, too’ and that is something I tend to strongly differ. On the basis of the story being fictitious, I therefore pay no significance to that particular metre.
The book is very striking and utterly impressive.
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