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Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead

American novelist
Colson Whitehead
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American novelist
Is Writer Novelist
From United States of America
Type Literature
Gender male
Birth 1969, New York City, USA
Age 52 years
Harvard University
Notable Works
The Intuitionist  
John Henry Days  
The Underground Railroad  
MacArthur Fellows Program  
PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award  
Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards 2002
Heartland Prize 2017
Peoplepill ID colson-whitehead
The details (from wikipedia)


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

Early life

Whitehead was born in New York City on November 6, 1969, and grew up in Manhattan. He is one of four children to successful entrepreneur parents who owned an executive recruiting firm. He attended the elite prep Trinity School in Manhattan and graduated from Harvard University in 1991. In college he became friends with poet Kevin Young.

Early in his career, he lived in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Whitehead lives in Manhattan and also owns a home in Sag Harbor (The Hamptons), on Long Island. His wife is a literary agent and they have two children.


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

Whitehead has since produced nine book-length works—seven novels and two non-fiction works, including a meditation on life in Manhattan in the style of E.B. White's famous essay Here Is New York. The books 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; 2016's The Underground Railroad, which earned a National Book Award for Fiction, and 2019's The Nickel Boys. Esquire magazine named The Intuitionist the best first novel of the year, and GQ called it one of the "novels of the millennium." 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."

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.

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. In January 2017 it was awarded the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction at the American Library Association Mid-Winter conference in Atlanta, GA. Colson was also honored with the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for fiction presented by the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation.

Whitehead's seventh novel, The Nickel Boys, was published in July 2019. In conjunction with the publication of The Nickel Boys, Whitehead was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine for the July 8, 2019 edition, alongside the strap-line "America's Storyteller". Currently, Whitehead is working on an eighth novel (originally conceived and begun before he wrote The Nickel Boys). The work-in-progress is an untitled crime novel set in Harlem during the 1960s.


  • 2000 Whiting Award
  • 2002 MacArthur Fellowship
  • 2007 Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars Fellowship
  • 2012 Dos Passos Prize
  • 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship

For The Intuitionist

  • Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award
  • Finalist, Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award

For John Henry Days

  • Young Lions Fiction Award
  • Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
  • Finalist, Pulitzer Prize
  • Finalist, National Book Critics Circle
  • Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize

For Apex Hides the Hurt

  • PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award

For Sag Harbor

  • Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
  • Finalist, Hurston-Wright Legacy Award

For Zone One

  • Finalist, Hurston-Wright Legacy Award

For The Underground Railroad

  • National Book Award for Fiction, 2016
  • Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, 2017
  • Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2017
  • Booker Prize, 2017 - Longlist
  • Arthur C. Clarke Award, 2017
  • International Dublin Literary Award, 2018 - Longlist



  • The Intuitionist (1999)
  • John Henry Days (2001)
  • Apex Hides the Hurt (2006)
  • Sag Harbor (2009)
  • Zone One (2011)
  • The Underground Railroad (2016)
  • The Nickel Boys (2019)


  • The Colossus of New York (2003)
  • The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky & Death (2014)


Short stories

  • "Down in Front". Granta (86: Film). Summer 2004. (Subscription Required)
  • "The Match", The New Yorker, March 26, 2019.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 31 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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