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Colson Whitehead

John Henry Days

Anchor Books

2002 Fiction

John Henry Days
Although he just published his second novel, Colson Whitehead is already a highly decorated author. His latest work, John Henry Days, received several distinguished literary awards, including the 2002 Young Lions Award and the 2002 Black Caucus Literary Award in fiction. The novel also was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angles Times Book Prize for Best Novel.

Set in 1996, John Henry Days travels back and forth through time to relate the juxtaposing life challenges of folk legend John Henry and a journalist covering the unveiling of the John Henry commemorative stamp. According to John Updike in The New Yorker, the novel "does what writing should do; it refreshes our sense of the world... An ambitious, finely chiseled work." Publisher's Weekly describes John Henry Days as "smart, learned and soaringly ambitious, his second novel consolidates his position as one of the leading writers of serious fiction of his generation."

Whitehead's first novel, The Intuitionist, explored issues of race and gender through the story of a black female elevator inspector. The novel also earned a Whiting Writers' Award. Walter Kirn of Time said the novel is "the freshest racial allegory since Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye."

Whitehead has written essays, journalism and television columns for The New York Times Magazine, Vibe, Spin, New York Newsday and the Village Voice. His two new projects include a novel and a book about New York. Born in New York City in 1969, Whitehead graduated from Harvard and now resides in Brooklyn.

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Blog Posts about Colson Whitehead

LISTEN IN: Novelist Colson Whitehead Interviewed On Professional Book Nerds Podcast

This month, Adam Sockel and Jill Grunenwald, hosts of the "Professional Book Nerds" podcast, snagged a few moments with Colson Whitehead to discuss his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Underground Railroad.  Their conversation covered the origins of his book, how Whitehead views his book in relation to the incredible success it has achieved, race relations throughout American history and a dive into the music he listens to while writing. Whitehead, who won the 2002 Anisfield-Wolf prize for John Henry Days, is coming off one of his... Read More →

A Literary President: Obama Reflects On The Books That Gave Him Stamina And Resolve

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., back in 2014. Official White House photo by Pete SouzaLate at night and through eight grueling years, literature helped sustain the outgoing president of the United States. In a wide-ranging interview with New York Times chief book critic Michiko Kakutani, Barack Obama reflected on the centrality of reading and the titles that have given him insight and solace, particularly in fiction.  He mentions just completing Colson Whitehead's "The... Read More →

Let These Books -- From Poetry To The Political -- Kick Off Your 2017 Reading List

How does one structure a year in reading?The New York Times published the answers of 47 writers and artists who reflected on the books they chose over the past year. Their responses create a fascinating skein of reading and thinking, and include essays from four Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recipients. The entire conversation, which weaves from basketball hall-of-famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to filmmaker Ava DuVernay to former House speaker Newt Gingrich to author Maxine Hong Kingston, is enlivening, a hopeful way to face into a new year.Praise for... Read More →

REVIEW: "The Underground Railroad" By Colson Whitehead

by Charles EllenbogenWith all of the recent discussion about the changing faces on U.S. currency, some controversy emerged over a seemingly safe and definitely popular choice – Harriet Tubman. How many people, some asked, did she really lead to freedom? Do we really want the story of slavery memorialized on money? And, most persuasively, would Tubman herself have wanted this honor?By not bringing up her name in his breathtakingly great new book, The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2002 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for John... Read More →

REVIEW: "The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death" By Colson Whitehead

The Noble HustleColson WhiteheadDoubleday, 234 pp., $24.95 Colson Whitehead will be 45 this year, and his latest book invites readers along on a midlife road trip, “The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death.” It’s a jaunty, discursive ride from a man whose first novel triumphantly, improbably featured elevator inspectors (“The Intuitionists”) and his second (“John Henry Days”) snagged an Anisfield-Wolf award in 2002. The new book is nonfiction, the outgrowth of a Grantland assignment. An editor staked Whitehead in the 2011... Read More →

Colson Whitehead Teaches You How To Write - Grab A Pen And Take Notes

Colson Whitehead We love it. We absolutely love it. When we read Colson Whitehead's "How To Write," we doubled over in laughter. Finally, a writer who gets it and has fun with the process. Writing is a mysterious endeavor. Those who don't write don't quite get what we do or how we do it or why we do it. But it's an exercise in exploration. Every word, every paragraph, every page, every book — it's all exploration. Whitehead doesn't take himself too seriously. He knows the writer's life well. For example, in rule #2 ("Let Your Subject Find You"), his... Read More →
  • Colson Whitehead

    Colson Whitehead

    Born: 1969

    www.ColsonWhitehead.com

    Other Works

    • The Intuitionist (1999)
    • The Colossus of New York (2003)
    • Apex Hides the Hurt (2006)
    • Sag Harbor (2009)

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