This paper examines cosmopolitanism in Teju Cole’s Every Day is for the Thief (2007) and Open City (2011). The protagonists of both texts maintain cosmopolitan identities largely by embracing an international literary culture in which elite cosmopolitan fiction relays the experiences of marginalized cosmopolitan subjects such as migrant workers and refugees. The texts, however, suggest the parochialism of the protagonists’ cosmopolitan sensibilities by introducing characters who possess creative resilience and language skills that the protagonists lack. Cole’s texts thus foreground the limits of a literary cosmopolitanism that privileges Anglophone fiction published in New York and London and gesture toward alternative literary cosmopolitanisms notable for their linguistic and geographical diversity, if not their glamour. Although Farouq and the “yahoo boys” aspire to membership in an elite cosmopolitan culture, their lives are non-spectacular and relatively immobile. Cole’s texts value a cosmopolitan literariness that neither hails from the intellectual cosmopolitan elite nor takes the dispossessed cosmopolitan migrant for its subject.


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pp. 239-250
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