Identity, dislocation, and history are portrayed vividly throughout Teju Cole's Open City. The main character, Julius (a young, Nigerian graduate student in psychiatry), routinely walks around the city as a means to decompress from his mentally taxing job. The novel's progress mirrors Julius' progress through graduate school, though the events of the novel depict primarily his free time.
Julius' identity as a German-Nigerian is important to him. He takes a trip to Brussels, ostensibly in search of his only remaining German grandmother. He spends much of his time in Belgium alone, and, ironically, he lies about his identity to a woman with whom he has a sexual encounter. This demonstrates the disjunction between sexual and emotional intimacy.
Another moment charged with the issue of identity is when Julius sees a group of black people assembled in...
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