Disruption Index: Teju Cole

One of 77 people, places and ideas changing cities in 2012.

Credit: Danni Sinisi

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Over the next two weeks, Next City will unroll short profiles of 77 people, places and ideas that have changed cities this year. Together, they make up our 2012 Disruption Index. Forefront subscribers can download the Index in full as a PDF, complete with beautiful designs and graphics by Danni Sinisi. Readers who make a $75 donation to Next City will have a full-color printed copy of the Index mailed to them.

Born in the U.S. but raised in Nigeria, writer Teju Cole splits his time between Brooklyn and Lagos, where he’s currently at work on a non-fiction narrative about the African megacity, one of the most dynamic in the developing world. But in the course of researching this work, Cole was struck by the amount of small but no less significant stories of life in Nigeria’s fastest-growing metropolis — the deadly collapse of a bus station latrine, for example, or the mother with only daughters who steals a son from the hospital. These tidbits of strange news wouldn’t necessarily fit into a book, but they still say something about the city and how it works. And so Cole shares them. In super-short prose, Cole brings these stories to a wider audience through his Twitter feed, twisting the amusing, the absurd and the frustratingly sad.

Here’s an example:


Judging by his most recent work, the award-winning novel Open City, Cole’s forthcoming book on Lagos is sure to please. In the meantime, his tweeted snapshots of the bizarre and mundane offer a curated and pointed view of Lagos that illuminates some of the world’s most pressing urban issues.

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Nate Berg is a writer and journalist covering cities, architecture and urban planning. Nate’s work has been published in a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times, NPR, Wired, Metropolis, Fast Company, Dwell, Architect, the Christian Science Monitor, LA Weekly and many others. He is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities and was previously an assistant editor at Planetizen.

Tags: 2012 disruption indexsocial mediaopen citieslagos

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