Discipline: Literature – fiction

Colson Whitehead

Discipline: Literature – fiction
Region: Brooklyn, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1999, 2011

Colson Whitehead is the author of two works of nonfiction and seven novels, two of which – The Underground Railroad (2016) and The Nickel Boys (2019) – have won the Pulitzer Prize. After graduating from Harvard College his writing career started at the Village Voice, where he wrote reviews of television, books, and music. His first novel, The Intuitionist, concerned intrigue in the Department of Elevator Inspectors, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and a winner of the Quality Paperback Book Club's New Voices Award. John Henry Days followed in 2001, an investigation of the steel-driving man of American folklore. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. The novel received the Young Lions Fiction Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Colossus of New York is a book of essays about the city. It was published in 2003 and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Apex Hides the Hurt (2006) is a novel about a "nomenclature consultant" who gets an assignment to name a town, and was a recipient of the PEN/Oakland Award. Sag Harbor, published in 2009, is a novel about teenagers hanging out in Sag Harbor, Long Island during the summer of 1985. It was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Zone One (2011), partially written at MacDowell, is about post-apocalyptic New York City and was a New York Times Bestseller. The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky & Death, a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker, appeared in 2014. In addition to the Pulitzer, The Underground Railroad won the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller. In addition to his second Pulitzer, The Nickel Boys, inspired by the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Florida, won the Kirkus Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Harlem Shuffle, the first book in the Harlem Trilogy, was published in September 2021. Crook Manifesto, the second installment, is expected in 2023.

Whitehead's reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in a number of publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper's, and Granta. In addition to his two Pulitzers and two MacDowell residencies, he has received a MacArthur Fellowship, A Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. In 2018, New York State named him their New York State Author, and in 2020 the Library of Congress awarded him their Prize for American Fiction. He has also taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, New York University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, and been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.


Van Zorn (formerly Kirby)

Colson Whitehead worked in the Van Zorn (formerly Kirby) studio.

Constructed thanks to a bequest from Sarah L. Kirby, Kirby Studio was the last new building to be erected during Mrs. MacDowell’s leadership (1907-1951). The load-bearing masonry walls were laid by local mason Augustus Beaulieu atop a fieldstone foundation. A 1995 renovation preserved the brick fireplace with wooden mantel and…

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