So happy for Teju Cole. The author of Open City is named as one of the top 50 people who change the world in 2013.

It’s the end of the year and we are being bombarded by all sorts of lists. But there’s something unique about this particular list. I find myself drawn to the idea of  giving a shout out to “the people who changed our lives this year…Whether they made us laugh, think, act, or pause…the people in our world right now who are the prime movers.”

(c) The Verge 50
(c) The Verge 50

The list of 50 names was curated by  The Verge, a New York based news and media network. Cole’s name appears under the category of The Informer, meaning that Cole is one of those figures who influenced the creation and circulation of ideas globally in 2013.

Cole has done quite a lot in the service not just of literature in general but of African literature. His debut novel, Open City, certainly challenged our notion of what an African novel is.

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From his small fates project to “A New Dictionary of Received Ideas,” Cole has done a lot to show us that Twitter can be used to produce new forms of writing.

Through the collection of small fates about Nigeria, Cole brought the everyday life of Nigerians into a global conversation against the widespread banality of violence. From the New Yorker piece on meeting Soyinka to his reflection on Koffi Awoonor’s passing, Cole put forth African literary concerns at the forefront of global literary discourse.

This is just to say that a good part of what makes Cole influential has to do with his work in promoting African literature.

Congrats Teju!

Here is what the folks at The Verge have to say about Cole.

Teju Cole, the (ready for it?) art historian, professor, novelist, essayist, editor, photographer, expert mix-maker, and creator of sublime Twitter fictions counts both Himanshu Suri of Das Racist and James Wood as fans. The Nigerian–American’s most acclaimed of Twitter projects, “Small Fates,” restyled news reports in the style of French journalist Félix Fénéon; when he isn’t doing that, the author tweets about drones and writes timely pieces of Instagram criticism. Cole broke into the mainstream with 2011’s award-winning and intensely referential Open City, the first pages of which he’s annotated on Rapgenius.com. A deep thinker and a student as much of classic literature as pop culture, Cole is proof for the Jonathan Franzens of the world that engaging with the internet doesn’t shortchange literary culture — it deepens it.

The Verge 50