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*Colson Whitehead was born on this date in 1969. He is a Black author.
Arch Colson Whitehead was born in New York City and grew up in Manhattan. He is one of four children to entrepreneurial parents who owned an executive recruiting firm. He attended the elite prep Trinity School in Manhattan and graduated from Harvard University in 1991.
After leaving college, Whitehead wrote for The Village Voice. While working at the Voice, he began drafting his first novels. His novels and non-fiction work include 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 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.
Whitehead's non-fiction essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Granta, and Harper's. He has taught at Princeton University, New York University, the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, and Wesleyan University. He has been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.
His 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad, 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, and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The prize judges called the novel "a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America."
Whitehead's novel, The Nickel Boys, was published in July 2019. The novel was inspired by the true story of the Dozier School for Boys in Florida, where children convicted of minor offenses suffered violent abuse. The Nickel Boys won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is Whitehead's second win, making him the fourth writer in history to have won the prize twice. Whitehead's eighth novel, Harlem Shuffle, was originally conceived and begun before he wrote The Nickel Boys. It is a work of crime fiction set in Harlem during the 1960s.
Whitehead spent years writing the novel and ultimately finished it in "bite-sized chunks" during the months he spent in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. Harlem Shuffle is scheduled to be published by Doubleday on September 14, 2021. Whitehead lives in Manhattan and owns a home in The Hamptons on Long Island. His wife is a literary agent, and they have two children.