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About Colson Whitehead
A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.
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When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades.
Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers and “should further cement Whitehead as one of his generation's best" (Entertainment Weekly).
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Time, Esquire, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vox, Variety, Christian Science Monitor, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Literary Hub, BuzzFeed, The New York Public Library
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE'S 10 BEST FICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE
WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL FICTION 2020
In Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.
Look for Whitehead’s acclaimed new novel, The Nickel Boys, available now!
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad
A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. After the worst of the plague is over, armed forces stationed in Chinatown’s Fort Wonton have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the three-person civilian sweeper units tasked with clearing lower Manhattan of the remaining feral zombies. Zone One unfolds over three surreal days in which Spitz is occupied with the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder (PASD), and the impossible task of coming to terms with a fallen world. And then things start to go terribly wrong…
At once a chilling horror story and a literary novel by a contemporary master, Zone One is a dazzling portrait of modern civilization in all its wretched, shambling glory.
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it. There are two warring factions within the department: the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects.
Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department. But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues. It's an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist. But Lila Mae is never wrong.
The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism's founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir. The notebooks describe Fulton's work on the "black box," a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century. When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever.
Benji Cooper is one of the few black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. But every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own.
The summer of ’85 won’t be without its usual trials and tribulations, of course. There will be complicated new handshakes to fumble through and state-of-the-art profanity to master. Benji will be tested by contests big and small, by his misshapen haircut (which seems to have a will of its own), by the New Coke Tragedy, and by his secret Lite FM addiction. But maybe, just maybe, this summer might be one for the ages.
"Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked . . ."
To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver's Row don't approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it's still home.
Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.
Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn't ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn't ask questions, either.
Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the "Waldorf of Harlem"—and volunteers Ray's services as the fence. The heist doesn't go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.
Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?
Harlem Shuffle's ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It's a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.
But mostly, it's a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.
A masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, The Colossus of New York captures the city’s inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories. Colson Whitehead conveys with almost uncanny immediacy the feelings and thoughts of longtime residents and of newcomers who dream of making it their home; of those who have conquered its challenges; and of those who struggle against its cruelties.
Whitehead’s style is as multilayered and multifarious as New York itself: Switching from third person, to first person, to second person, he weaves individual voices into a jazzy musical composition that perfectly reflects the way we experience the city. There is a funny, knowing riff on what it feels like to arrive in New York for the first time; a lyrical meditation on how the city is transformed by an unexpected rain shower; and a wry look at the ferocious battle that is commuting. The plaintive notes of the lonely and dispossessed resound in one passage, while another captures those magical moments when the city seems to be talking directly to you, inviting you to become one with its rhythms.
The Colossus of New York is a remarkable portrait of life in the big city. Ambitious in scope, gemlike in its details, it is at once an unparalleled tribute to New York and the ideal introduction to one of the most exciting writers working today.
Colson Whitehead’s triumphant novel is on one level a multifaceted retelling of the story of John Henry, the black steel-driver who died outracing a machine designed to replace him. On another level it’s the story of a disaffected, middle-aged black journalist on a mission to set a record for junketeering who attends the annual John Henry Days festival. It is also a high-velocity thrill ride through the tunnel where American legend gives way to American pop culture, replete with p. r. flacks, stamp collectors, blues men , and turn-of-the-century song pluggers. John Henry Days is an acrobatic, intellectually dazzling, and laugh-out-loud funny book that will be read and talked about for years to come.
PREMIO PULITZER 2020
Una de las 10 mejores novelas de la década pasada según la revista Time.
El autor de El ferrocarril subterráneo (Premio Pulitzer 2017) vuelve a ganar el Pulitzer con la estremecedora historia de dos amigos que luchan por su supervivencia.
Bestseller de The New York Times
Premiado con The Kirkus Prize
Nominado al National Book Award y finalista del National Book Critics Circle Award
Mejor libro de 2019 según Time. Entre los 10 mejores libros de 2019 según Publishers Weekly. Entre los 20 mejores libros de 2019 según Amazon y Apple. Entre los 10 mejores libros de 2019 según los libreros de Barnes &Nobles
Desde pequeño, Elwood Curtis ha escuchado con devoción, en el viejo tocadiscos de su abuela, los discursos de Martin Luther King. Sus ideas, al igual que las de James Baldwin, han hecho de este adolescente negro un estudiante prometedor que sueña con un futuro digno. Pero de poco sirve esto en la Academia Nickel para chicos: un reformatorio que se vanagloria de convertir a sus internos en hombres hechos y derechos pero que oculta una realidad inhumana respaldada por muchos y obviada por todos. Elwood intenta sobrevivir a este lugar junto a Turner, su mejor amigo en la Nickel. El idealismo de uno y la astucia del otro les llevará a tomar una decisión que tendrá consecuencias irreparables.
Después de El ferrocarril subterráneo, Colson Whitehead nos brinda una historia basada en el estremecedor caso real de un reformatorio de Florida que destrozó la vida de miles de niños y que leha hecho merecedor de su segundo premio Pulitzer. Esta deslumbrante novela, a caballo entre el momento presente y el final de la segregación racial estadounidense de los sesenta, interpela directamente al lector y muestra la genialidad de un escritor en la cima de su carrera.
«Una lectura necesaria.»
«Colson Whitehead continua haciendo del género clásico americano el suyo propio [...] Es la voz de las historias suprimidas; su escritura es tanto ética como estética.»
The New York Times
«Una narración cautivadora que refuerza la posición de Whitehead como una de las principales voces de la literatura norteamericana.»
«Una novela sorprendentemente distinta a El ferrocarril subterráneo. Whitehead revela las atrocidades clandestinas de la Academia Nickel con la dosificación justa como para mantenernos en un estado de temor palpable.
Galardonada con el Premio Pulitzer 2017 y con el National Book Award, El ferrocarril subterráneo ha sido el acontecimiento literario del año en Estados Unidos.
Colson Whitehead es uno de los pocos escritores que ha conseguido ambos premios por el mismo libro. Con El ferrocarril subterráneo entra a formar parte del grupo de grandes nombres como Faulkner, Proulx, Updike y A. Walker.
Una renovada visión de la esclavitud donde se mezclan leyenda y realidad y que oculta una historia universal: la de la lucha por escapar al propio destino
Cora es una joven esclava de una plantación de algodón en Georgia. Abandonada por su madre, vive sometida a la crueldad de sus amos. Cuando César, un joven de Virginia, le habla del ferrocarril subterráneo, ambos deciden iniciar una arriesgada huida hacia el Norte para conseguir la libertad.
El ferrocarril subterráneo convierte en realidad una fábula de la época e imagina una verdadera red de estaciones clandestinas unidas por raíles subterráneos que cruzan el país. En su huida, Cora recorrerá los diferentes estados, y en cada parada se encontrará un mundo completamente diferente, mientras acumula decepciones en el transcurso de una bajada a los infiernos de la condición humana... Aun así, también habrá destellos de humanidad que le harán mantener la esperanza.
Whitehead nos brinda una historia universal, onírica y a la vez brutalmente realista, sobre la libertad y las ilusiones truncadas, que nos habla de la fuerza sobrehumana que emerge ante la determinación de cambiar el propio destino.
«De manera similar a Robert Wright, Whitehead no solo examina los vestigios de la esclavitud y el racismo, sino también la manera en que el miedo nos esclaviza a todos y fomenta un sistema de desigualdad autopropulsado. Con Cora, recordamos la importancia de la rebelióny la libertad; temas que nos dan una chispa de esperanza en estos momentos tan oscuros.»
Freddie Braun, Vogue ("6 novelas fundamentales de autores negros que deberías añadir a tu lista de lecturas")
El ferrocarril subterráneo ha sido
ganador del Premio Pulitzer 2017,
National Book Award 2016,
Indies Choice Book Award 2017,
galardonado con la Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence,
destacada por Barack Obama y Ophra Winfrey,
número 1 de la lista de best seller de The New York Times durante más de 36 semanas,
seleccionado libro del año 2016 por Amazon y Apple,
una de las mejores novelas de 2016 según The New York Times Book Review y Publishers Weekly.
La adaptación televisiva de la novela correrá a cargo de Barry Jenkins, director de Moonlight, ganadora del Oscar a la mejor película en 2017.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad
In 2011, Grantland magazine gave bestselling novelist Colson Whitehead $10,000 to play at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. It was the assignment of a lifetime, except for one hitch—he’d never played in a casino tournament before. With just six weeks to train, our humble narrator took the Greyhound to Atlantic City to learn the ways of high-stakes Texas Hold’em.
Poker culture, he discovered, is marked by joy, heartbreak, and grizzled veterans playing against teenage hotshots weaned on Internet gambling. Not to mention the not-to-be overlooked issue of coordinating Port Authority bus schedules with your kid’s drop-off and pickup at school. Finally arriving in Vegas for the multimillion-dollar tournament, Whitehead brilliantly details his progress, both literal and existential, through the event’s antes and turns, through its gritty moments of calculation, hope, and spectacle. Entertaining, ironic, and strangely profound, this epic search for meaning at the World Series of Poker is a sure bet.
An NPR Best Book of the Year
This New York Times Notable Book from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad is a brisk, comic tour de force about identity, history, and the adhesive bandage industry.
The town of Winthrop has decided it needs a new name. The resident software millionaire wants to call it New Prospera; the mayor wants to return to the original choice of the founding black settlers; and the town’s aristocracy sees no reason to change the name at all. What they need, they realize, is a nomenclature consultant. And, it turns out, the consultant needs them. But in a culture overwhelmed by marketing, the name is everything and our hero’s efforts may result in not just a new name for the town but a new and subtler truth about it as well.