Colson Whitehead

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Colson Whitehead
Colson whitehead 2009.jpg
Colson Whitehead at the 2009 Texas Book Festival.
Born November 6, 1969
New York City
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genre Fiction and Non-fiction
Notable works The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Zone One

Colson Whitehead is a New York-based novelist. He is the author of the 1999 novel The Intuitionist, as well as four other novels and one book of non-fiction. In 2002, he received a MacArthur Fellowship.

Personal life[edit]

Whitehead was born in New York City on November 6, 1969, and grew up in Manhattan. He attended Trinity in Manhattan. Whitehead graduated from Harvard College in 1991.


After leaving college, Whitehead wrote for The Village Voice.[1][2] While working at the Voice, he began drafting his first novels.

Whitehead has since produced six book-length works—five novels and 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, and 2011's Zone One, a New York Times Bestseller.[3]

Whitehead in 2002

Esquire Magazine named The Intuitionist the best first novel of the year, and GQ called it one of the "novels of the millennium."[4] 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."[4]

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.[5]

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.


For The Intuitionist

For John Henry Days

For Apex Hides the Hurt

For Sag Harbor

For Zone One





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


Short Stories[edit]

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

Further Reading[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Colson Whitehead". Archived from the original on 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  2. ^ Nancy Smith (2012-07-17). "Interview with Colson Whitehead". The Rumpus. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  3. ^ "Colson Whitehead". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  4. ^ a b John Updike, "Tote That Ephemera," The New Yorker, May 7, 2001.
  5. ^ a b "Colson Whitehead to be awarded Longwood’s Dos Passos Prize for Literature". Longwood University. 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 

External links[edit]