TEJU COLE is the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine and the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard. He was born in the US in 1975 to Nigerian parents, and raised in Nigeria. He currently lives in Brooklyn. He is the author of four books.
His novella, Every Day is for the Thief, was named a book of the year by the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, NPR, and the Telegraph, and shortlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award. His novel, Open City, also featured on numerous book of the year lists, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Internationaler Literaturpreis, and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature. His essay collection, Known and Strange Things, was shortlisted for both the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and the inaugural PEN/Jean Stein Award for “a book that has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.” Known and Strange Things was named a book of the year by the Guardian, the Financial Times, Time Magazine, and many others. His most recent book, Blind Spot (June 2017), a genre-crossing work of photography and texts, was shortlisted for the Aperture/Paris Photo Photobook Award and named one of the best books of the year by Time Magazine. He was commissioned by the 2017 Performa Biennial to present a multimedia solo performance piece, Black Paper, which the New York Times acclaimed as “quietly grave” and “thoroughly devastating.”
Teju Cole has contributed to the New York Times, the New Yorker, Granta, Brick, and many other magazines. His photography column at the New York Times Magazine, “On Photography,” was a finalist for a 2016 National Magazine Award.
There have been solo exhibitions of his photography in Italy, Iceland, India, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the US. He gave the 2014 Kenan Distinguished Lecture in Ethics at Duke University, the 2015 Susan D. Gubar Lecture at Indiana University, and the 2016 Spui25 Lecture at the University of Amsterdam. He was awarded the 2015 Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction, a 2015 US Artists award, and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship. He serves as a board member for several periodicals and arts organizations, and has participated in many literary and photography juries. He will deliver the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Lectures at the University of Chicago in the spring of 2019.