Open City Short Essay - Answer Key

Teju Cole
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1. What is the style of the opening pages of Open City, and what kind of expectation do they set up in the reader?

The novel opens with the main character’s observations of the city and of the bird migrations he can see from his apartment. The narrator says that he enjoys wandering through the city in the final year of his psychiatry fellowship, and the narrator then considers the classical music selection on the radio. The reader begins to expect a peripatetic novel of observations and thoughts, instead of a novel of desires and actions and challenges.

2. At the book's beginning, why does the narrator says that he goes for long walks?

The narrator says that he enjoys his walks as a “release from the tightly regulated mental environment at work” which was a “regimen of perfection and competence” which “allowed neither improvisation nor tolerated mistakes” (7). In his wanderings, “every decision…was inconsequential” (7).

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