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review 2015-12-19 00:00
Every Day is for the Thief
Every Day is for the Thief - Teju Cole 1. This is not exactly fiction.

2. It's all about Nigeria.

3. It has a few over 100 pages. You can read it in a day, but I wouldn't recommend. This baby needs to be flavored, not just churned.

Religion, corruption, happiness. Why, if so religious, so little concern for the ethical life or human rights? Why, if so happy, such weariness and stifled suffering?


In my college days, I took Ethics lessons. The professor, a very interesting little man with an international PhD, told us about what was wrong with Brazil. Or why Brazil is so bad. This is a very common question, and every teacher, liberal worker, journalist or pretense intellectual in Brazil has an answer. It was the Portuguese, they said. Or the Catholic church. It is the elite. Capitalism. Socialism. All of those answers reeked of whatever political indoctrination disguised as knowledge they were fed at college. Or by the media. Every single one of them.

So I awaited with eagerness: what does this middle-class law professor with an international PhD could add? He introduced us to Hannah Arendt, and the notion that corruption exists in Brazil because Brazilians have little grasp on what “public” means. Or its differentiation from “private”. In the typical Brazilian mind, a public thing is not something that belongs to all, and to be cherished as it should be used by others, but a public thing is something that is yours for the taking. For you, your family, and friends. And the others could damn themselves. Hence corruption, nepotism, and “social skills” being more important, by a long shot, than merit and personal accomplishments.

I don’t know what Arendt (or my cute professor) would think of Nigeria.


But corruption, in the form of piracy or of graft, also means that most people remain on the margins. The systems that could lift the majority out of poverty are undercut at every turn. Precisely because everyone takes a shortcut, nothing works and, for this reason, the only way to get anything done is to take another shortcut. The advantage in these situations goes to the highest bidders, those individuals most willing to pay money or to test the limits of the law.


Although this is an analysis of the Nigerian culture, and a human recollection of why Nigerians are the way they are, it’s also an empathetic read to anyone living in a country riddled with corruption... like Brazil. Brazilians are stereotypically perceived as happy and celebrative, but it’s only a disguise for the extreme harsh life the usual Brazilian is stuck with. Low wages. Urban violence. The sense of being hostages to criminals. Crowds murdering criminals. The corrupt police. The corrupt public officers. Everything is there in the book, like it was written about us. We accompany a Nigerian coming back to his country after decades living abroad, and many of the situations he put himself there, I found myself in here, too.

But there is more to it than just corruption. Teju is not a proverbial anthropologist, wandering through the community with a finger resting on his chin and the detachment of a scholar. He mixes himself with Nigerian life. He suffers. He seeks comfort in art. And he gives us observational bites of a travel, pieces of story, as we were with him.

I won’t go into details here, as to not spoil it, but don’t expect a work of fiction. Not a dry non-fiction. Everyday is for thief falls happily in between, and the result is lean, smooth, honest and very interesting.

image
Hey, the photos are pretty nice too.
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text 2014-03-30 04:51
New Book Releases To Check Out
The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna van Praag
The Cruelty - S. Bergstrom
Stay Where You Are And Then Leave - John Boyne,Oliver Jeffers
Byrd - Kim Church
Every Day Is for the Thief: Fiction - Teju Cole
Riding a Crocodile - Paul A Komesaroff
  • The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel by Menna van Praag (March 25, 2014 by Penguin Books [Goodreads]
  • The Cruelty by S. Bergstrom (March 15, 2014 by JKSCommunications) [Goodreads]
  • Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne (March 25, 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)) [Goodreads]
  • Byrd by Kim Church (March 18, 2014 by Dzanc Books) [Goodreads]
  • Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole (March 25, 2014 by Random House) [Goodreads]
  • Riding a Crocodile by Paul A Komesaroff (March 11, 2014 by River Grove Books) [Goodreads]
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text 2014-03-16 04:15
Reading progress update: I've read 72%.
Every Day Is for the Thief: Fiction - Teju Cole

Doctors earn $500 a month!!! However, everything we pay for in the world is the same in Nigeria. Anywhere you go, as simple as getting gas, someone is getting over on you. I couldn't live like this. Oiling the palms of everyone around me just to get what I need, am paying for or have paid for. NUTS!!

 

****Scattered Thoughts****

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review 2014-03-13 00:00
Every Day Is for the Thief: Fiction
Every Day Is for the Thief: Fiction - Teju Cole Author, Teju Cole, transcribes a trip to Nigeria after spending his life growing up in the States (New York, specifically). He takes not only his writing talent, but his observational and artistic talent as well, back to his birthplace and offers us a glimpse of what few people would notice. The noted contrast between cultures is not unlike what draws me into the writing of Jhumpa Lahiri, such as her novel THE LOWLANDS, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Cole takes us into the heart of Nigeria, starting with the display of corruption from the ground, up. Everyone demands payment of naira for their services: crossing guards, ticket takers, grocers, etc. No payment could mean a denial of service or even bodily harm. Money, as describes Cole, is the social lubricant. And yes, those emails you get from Nigerian princes do come from Nigeria, are really the “yahoo yahoo” boys pecking out their letters one by one, under the nose of bribed police officers.

This story of Cole’s offers a shining thread of hope in the midst of disparity. Small, glimmering moments are noticed by him throughout. These moments could mean a woman reading literature on the bus, or a school girl learning to play classical music. Honest labored business is possible and does have potential to thrive.

Beside the focus on violence, corruption, and poverty, I was particularly fascinated by the focus on religion. Cole describes both Muslim and Christian cultures, as well as a home that had practicing members of both faiths. It is interesting how so many seemingly opposite things coexist.

The language of THE DAY IS FOR THE THIEF is simple and raw. Not all dialogue is separated by standard formatting, but often blended into Cole’s story. Well-framed photographs accent the story throughout. As a reader, you feel a definite presence of being along with him on his journey.

My recommendation for this book would be to include a map of the Lagos area. Cole rattles off street names, city sections, and key areas; a map would help comprehension. I also wished to know more of what prompted this trip and his goals of being there, but that might just be my personal gaffe.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with an electronic review copy of this book.
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text 2014-03-05 02:03
Books "I must read" in March and ones I'd like to finish
Every Day Is for the Thief: Fiction - Teju Cole
Don't Even Think About It - Sarah Mlynowski
Best Kind of Broken - Chelsea Fine
The Man Who Walked Away - Maud Casey
One Tiny Lie - K.A. Tucker
Allegiant - Veronica Roth
Crash into You - Katie McGarry

Posted are books that are being released in March that I must read and review and some that I picked up, at some point, only put down for various reasons. I'm going to try to be very disciplined and set a goal of a minimum 100 pages per day. This would make me happy as well as proud of myself. I think I can do it. **Stick To The Plan**

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