Colson Whitehead Essays

Bio

Colson Whitehead was born in 1969, and was raised in Manhattan.

After graduating from Harvard College, he started working at the Village Voice, where he wrote reviews of television, books, and music.

His first novel, The Intuitionist, concerned intrigue in the Department of Elevator Inspectors, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and a winner of the Quality Paperback Book Club's New Voices Award.

John Henry Days followed in 2001, an investigation of the steel-driving man of American folklore. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. The novel received the Young Lions Fiction Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

The Colossus of New York is a book of essays about the city. It was published in 2003 and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Apex Hides the Hurt (2006) is a novel about a "nomenclature consultant" who gets an assignment to name a town, and was a recipient of the PEN/Oakland Award.

Sag Harbor, published in 2009, is a novel about teenagers hanging out in Sag Harbor, Long Island during the summer of 1985. It was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Zone One (2011), about post-apocalyptic New York City, was a New York Times Bestseller.

The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky & Death, a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker, appreared in 2014.

The Underground Railroad, a novel, was published in the summer of 2016. It won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

Colson Whitehead's reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in a number of publications, such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper's and Granta.

He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, A Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

He has taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, New York University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, and been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.

He lives in New York City.

Colson Whitehead (born November 6, 1969) is an American novelist. He is the author of six novels, including his debut work, the 1999 novelThe Intuitionist, and The Underground Railroad (2016), for which he won the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[1] He has also published two books of non-fiction. In 2002, he received a MacArthur Fellowship ("Genius Grant").

Early life[edit]

Whitehead was born in New York City on November 6, 1969, and grew up in Manhattan. He attended Trinity School in Manhattan. Whitehead graduated from Harvard University in 1991; in college he became friends with poet Kevin Young.[2]

Career[edit]

After leaving college, Whitehead wrote for The Village Voice.[3][4] While working at the Voice, he began drafting his first novels.

Whitehead has since produced seven book-length works—six novels and a meditation on life in Manhattan in the style of E.B. White's famous essay Here Is New York. The novels are 1999's The Intuitionist, 2001's John Henry Days, 2003's The Colossus of New York, 2006's Apex Hides the Hurt, 2009's Sag Harbor, 2011's Zone One, a New York Times Bestseller; and 2016's The Underground Railroad, which earned a National Book Award for Fiction.[5][6]Esquire magazine named The Intuitionist the best first novel of the year, and GQ called it one of the "novels of the millennium."[7] Novelist John Updike, reviewing The Intuitionist in The New Yorker, called Whitehead "ambitious," "scintillating," and "strikingly original," adding, "The young African-American writer to watch may well be a thirty-one-year-old Harvard graduate with the vivid name of Colson Whitehead."[7]

Whitehead's The Intuitionist was nominated as the Common Novel at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The Common Novel nomination was part of a long-time tradition at the Institute that included authors like Maya Angelou, Andre Dubus III, William Joseph Kennedy, and Anthony Swofford.

Whitehead's non-fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Granta, and Harper's.[8]

His non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky & Death was published by Doubleday in 2014.

He has taught at Princeton University, New York University, the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Wesleyan University, and been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.

In the spring of 2015, he joined The New York Times Magazine to write a column on language.

His 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad, was a selection of Oprah's Book Club 2.0, and was also chosen by President Barack Obama as one of five books on his summer vacation reading list.[9][10] In January 2017 it was awarded the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction at the American Library Association Mid-Winter conference in Atlanta, GA.[11] Colson was also honored with the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for fiction presented by the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation.[12]

Honors[edit]

For The Intuitionist

For John Henry Days

For Apex Hides the Hurt

For Sag Harbor

For Zone One

For The Underground Railroad

Works[edit]

Fiction[edit]

Non-fiction[edit]

Essays[edit]

Short stories[edit]

  • "Down in Front". Granta (86: Film). Summer 2004.  (Subscription Required)

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Fain, Kimberly. Colson Whitehead: The Postracial Voice of Contemporary Literature. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
  • Maus, Derek C. Understanding Colson Whitehead. University of South Carolina Press, 2014.

External links[edit]

  1. ^2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners and Nominees, The Pulitzer Prizes, 2017, retrieved April 10, 2017 
  2. ^Purcell, Andrew (May 20, 2017). "Colson Whitehead: 'The truth of things, not the facts'". Western Advocate. Retrieved June 12, 2017. 
  3. ^"Colson Whitehead". Colsonwhitehead.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2008. 
  4. ^Nancy Smith (July 17, 2012). "Interview with Colson Whitehead". The Rumpus. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ ab"The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, 2016 National Book Award Winner, Fiction". 
  6. ^"Colson Whitehead". Pen.org. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2008. 
  7. ^ abJohn Updike, "Tote That Ephemera," The New Yorker, May 7, 2001.
  8. ^ ab"Colson Whitehead to be awarded Longwood's Dos Passos Prize for Literature". Longwood University. February 25, 2013. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  9. ^Allie Malloy, "Obama summer reading list: 'The Girl on the Train'", CNN, August 12, 2016.
  10. ^Sarah Begley, "Here’s What President Obama Is Reading This Summer", Time magazine, August 12, 2016.
  11. ^French, Agatha. "American Library Assn.'s 2017 award winners include 'March: Book Three' by Rep. John Lewis". latimes.com. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  12. ^"Colson Whitehead Honored Once Again for His Novel The Underground Railroad", The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, October 25, 2017.
  13. ^"ALA Midwinter 2017: Colson Whitehead, Matthew Desmond Win ALA Carnegie Medals". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 

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