Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole

Title: Every Day is for the Thief
Author: Teju Cole
Genre: Fiction

Rating: 2 / 5

Goodreads | Powell’s

 

This book was all right. I don’t feel strongly about it one way or the other. The writing was decent, though at times seemed somewhat bland. Nevertheless I read it pretty quickly; it is a short book and I read it two sittings. It didn’t drag, but it wasn’t propelled by much either.

It could be that I am missing something here, but this book didn’t really speak strongly to me. There was no real narrative thrust, no plot to speak of, nothing was explored in great depth. It all seemed fairly superficial. The subject is Nigeria, basically, with a strong theme of homecoming. The book is apparently fiction but it reads like an extended magazine article or a travelogue journal. I felt like there were big gaps, too; he takes a stand against copying CDs (because “piracy is bad for creativity”) but there is not a word said about gender relations. He talks about how authors in the US are limited by and have their talents squandered on their banal subject matter (he cites Updike as an example); Nigeria, he suggests, is so full of human stories. This I do not doubt for one second. However, Teju Cole fails to tell any them–or say much about anything, for that matter. Mostly what I came away with is that Nigeria has a lot of corruption and poverty, and the narrator who has lived in the US for 15 years was frustrated and longing for a more functional Nigeria, one that could really feel like a comfortable home. It wasn’t exactly…inspired.

Despite the “low” rating, two stars still means “it’s okay,” and it is. If you’re really interested in Nigeria, or are curious about this book, I would suggest taking a look at it; the time investment is very small and, although I don’t know a great deal about Nigeria, this is probably a fairly accurate snapshot of it for the time being.

For books with similar subjects and themes, of African countries, homecoming, family and/or un-belonging, that I personally feel achieved better results, I suggest Americanah, which I absolutely loved; Ghana Must Go; and, hell, even We Need New Names.

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