“Across the Pond” Book Review

The Second Air Division Library plays host to the “Reading Across The Pond” book group, which reads a new book by an American author every month. While they read primarily fiction, both new and classic, the occasional biography and “real-life” story (such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood) do make an appearance.

This month, the group read Open City, by Teju Cole, and I thought it would be interesting to share their thoughts.



America is a nation of immigrants. This book gives an interesting perspective of the different cultures in the USA.

I found it a confusing read in terms of the range of incidents and experiences recounted and the lack of a narrative, although the author’s voice is very clear in an almost autobiographical way.

Some interesting descriptions and language conveyed, but it came across as quite ‘ego-centric’, leading to a lack of engagement by the reader, which was disappointing.

The experiences do not really engage the reader as there is a lack of follow through or any connection to the different episodes recounted across New York, Brussels and Nigeria.

It seemed a perplexing book in the lack of emotions expressed by the author and an opportunity wasted. Lack of structure made it harder to engage with.

It felt like it could have been more developed around the black immigrant experience and the different cultures in the USA.

A narrative about impressions — finding meaning in the different experiences encountered.


If you have an interest in American literature, the group meets on the second Monday of the month, from 5:30-6:30 in the Vernon Castle Room of the Millennium Library. The next meeting is on the 14th of May, when the group will be discussing The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides. We reserve copies of the book for pickup in the Library, so if you are interested stop by and snag one, although copies are by necessity limited so it’s a first come, first served process.

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