“One goes to the market to participate in the world. As with all things that concern the world, being in market requires caution. The market–as the essence of the city–is always alive with possibility and danger.” (p. 57)
I don’t often read loads of books that are set in Africa thus it shouldn’t be a surprise when I say that Every Day Is for the Thief by Teju Cole is the first book that I’ve read that takes place in contemporary Nigeria. In, Every Day Is for the Thief we follow an unnamed narrator as he relates to his journey to Nigeria, the country where he was born and where he grew up in. As a result of this the reader feels like they are going along on the journey with him.
Having never been to anywhere in Africa, I loved learning about what life is like Nigeria now. We also receive an interesting and unique perspective on the culture there in addition to learning about the behind the scenes aspects of things akin to the 416 scams which are commonly associated with Nigeria. In fact, in Every Day Is for the Thief the narrator goes into an Internet café and witnesses a few young Nigerian men working on writing those emails. He subsequently notes that these are mostly post-secondary students who need the money to make purchases and “show off” to their classmates at school.
I also felt that the author does a fine job at capturing the confusion and fascination one feels when they return to the country where they are from, as it is definitely a feeling that I could relate to. One example was the scene where the narrator’s relatives point that the locals would recognize him as a foreigner now, which in reality does happen soon after in the book when he’s in a market looking at some masks. This made me recall back to when I first went back to my home country, Vietnam. Back then I was instantly recognized as being a “foreigner” despite speaking the same language as the locals and resembling them in physical features. Furthermore, I loved the black and white photographs that were included throughout the book as they truly add to the story and assist with the visualization of the story.
Interestingly enough, while Every Day Is for the Thief is being marketed as fiction, it is more reminiscent of a piece of non-fiction work or a travel memoir, given the numerous similarities between the narrator and the author when it comes to things such as past and stuff. Nevertheless, Every Day Is for the Thief is a book that is filled with, in my opinion various compelling commentary on topics such as family, education, discrimination, religion, death, change and the major chasm between the rich and the poor in Nigeria.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.