Nigerian, Teju Cole, wins $10,000 award for first novel

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Teju Cole

Teju Cole

Nigerian Author Teju Cole has won this year’s Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a “distinguished” first book of fiction.

PEN New England, a regional branch of the international writers organization, and the Hemingway Foundation announced Tuesday that Cole, 36, would receive $10,000 for “Open City.” Cole’s story of a Nigerian doctor’s physical and spiritual journey also is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award.

According to his website,, he is a writer, art historian, street photographer and Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.

It says he was “born in the US (1975) to Nigerian parents, raised in Nigeria. Lives in Brooklyn. Author of two books, a novella, Every Day is for the Thief, and a novel, Open City (which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award). Contributor to the New York Times, Qarrtsiluni, Chimurenga, the New Yorker, Transition, Tin House, A Public Space, etc. Currently at work on a book-length non-fiction narrative of Lagos, and on Small Fates.”

The author grew up in Nigeria and currently lives in New York City.

The Hemingway award was founded in 1976 by Mary Hemingway, widow of the Nobel laureate. Previous winners of the Hemingway prize include Marilynne Robinson and Edward P. Jones.


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