Teju Cole

If you've ever received one of those emails claiming to be from someone in Nigeria, and telling you that millions of dollars await you, it may have been sent from an Internet cafe, the kind that proliferate in Lagos, Nigeria. There, under a sign warning patrons not to engage in fraud, people might sit typing emails that make outrageously fraudulent claims. Guards might be stationed in the cafe, and when they notice suspicious activity, they swoop down upon the offending patron, perhaps threatening him with torture and prison, and shaking him down for money.

Let's get the negative stuff out of the way first. Teju Cole's Every Day Is For The Thief is not much of a novel. Forget plot or character development: This is a piece of writing that's all about setting. If you take what Cole is offering here and value it on its own terms, you'll probably appreciate the curious magic at work in this slim not-quite-a-novel. In chapters that stand as separate, short vignettes, Every Day Is For The Thief describes a young New York doctor's visit back to his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria.

"Like it or not, America has softened you" — such are the words of welcome to the unnamed narrator of Teju Cole's Every Day Is for the Thief. The young man is on a trip to his home country of Nigeria, and as he visits his family and friends in Lagos, what he finds isn't quite what he expected: He's pressed for bribes at every turn. He tries to reconcile Nigeria's history with the museums that appear to avoid it. He sees the "Yahoo boys" at an Internet cafe, tapping out scam email messages.

Book News: @GSElevator Author Loses Book Deal

Mar 7, 2014

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.