"Every Day is for the Thief" by Teju Cole

A young Nigerian writer living in New York City returns to Lagos with a unique perspective of the city of his youth.  Here, he is able to see it through the eyes of both a foreigner and a local.  As he reconnects with friends and family, he explores the history and present-day of his country, the beauty and corruption of his city while revealing pieces of himself.

Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole is an incredible story, a beautiful travelogue that straddles the line between fiction and non-fiction.  Accompanied by incredible photos taken by the author himself, this book will transport you to the heart of Nigeria, making you feel like you know the country even if you have never been there before.

This isn’t your typical novel in that there is a lot of plot nor is there much to the character (who in fact remains unnamed throughout the book.)  Rather it is one’s journey that the reader is invited along for.  And because of this, the size of the book, works very well.  This is a novella, and packs a lot into its small size.  The reader will be able to read it cover to cover in one sitting.  

This book was originally published in 2007 in Nigeria and is now being published for a wider audience.  The book focuses heavily on the corruption that exists in Nigerian society, beginning with the corruption at the embassy as the narrator tries to get his passport and then exploring the many different ways corruption exposes itself in the country.  When one thinks of this issue, one thinks of the well-known “419” internet scams and this is given attention.  But beyond this the author laments a country where the competition for prosperity puts everything, including culture and history, out of the way.

This is one of my anticipated reads for 2014 and it did not disappoint me.  Actually, it did disappoint me when I found it was only 127 pages, I definitely would have loved more.  What I love about reading is it allows us to see the world through someone else’s eyes and this book does that perfectly.  Cole doesn’t hold back in presenting a realistic Nigeria, even when it comes across in a negative away.  All throughout the book it is difficult to tell if it is fiction or real, and that is a sign of very good writing.  What I appreciate most about this book is that it is not really about giving a tour of the city, or criticizing the country.  It’s about showing the way one changes, the way one’s viewpoint changes, when they build a life that exists in two very different parts of the world. 

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.


  1. I've already heard descriptions of the vibrant setting in this book which made me want to pick it up and your review made me even more excited for it. I love books which seem like they could either be real or fiction. If nonfiction, that often means that have a great story and if fiction, it means they're believable. This sounds very good!


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