Six years ago I stumbled on a book from a small Nigerian Press. I can’t remember where I found it. I think I grabbed the best-looking thing I could find in the bookshop at Entebbe airport before a long flight. My expectations were low. I certainly didn’t expect to find the best book I’d read in years.
It was a memoir. A young Nigerian doctor returns home after fifteen years in New York, and sees his native land through both native and foreign eyes. This is a terrific device for bridging the gap between an American reader and the life of Lagos. It’s also a feeling every émigré has shared–of suddenly realizing you’re a foreigner in your own land.
None of this sounds like the basis of a bestseller. And it wasn’t. But it was probably one of the most beautifully written books I could remember reading. And, as travel memoirs in Africa go, the most moving and least stereotypical. I remember thinking to myself: this guy should be famous.
It turns out, he now is. A few years later, Teju Cole would publish a debut novel, Open City, and The New Yorker (among others) would christen him one of the greatest writers of his generation. It’s now 2014, and a major press has decided to republish his Nigerian memoir, Every Day is for the Thief.
Needless to say, I can’t recommend a book more. Buy it here.