Colson Whitehead was born in 1969, and was raised in Manhattan. After graduating from Harvard College, he started working 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.
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.
Colson Whitehead's reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in a number of publications, such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper's and Granta. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.
One: A Novel
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Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (October 18, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has
devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the
uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.
Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild'ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern'ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street'aka Zone One'but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety'the 'malfunctioning' stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.
Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work'ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz's desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.
And then things start to go wrong.
Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One brilliantly subverts the genre's conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.
Sag Harbor: A
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Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; Stated First Edition edition (April 28, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
Amazon Best of the Month, May 2009: Like his fellow New Yorker Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead weaves gracefully through genres with each of his books, but Sag Harbor, billed as his "autobiographical fourth novel," seems positioned to be his breakout book--which is a funny thing for a writer who has already received so many major literary awards, including a MacArthur "Genius" grant and being short-listed for the Pulitzer.
The year is 1985 and 15-year-old Benji Cooper, one of the only black students at his elite Manhattan private school, leaves the city to spend three largely unsupervised months living with his younger brother Reggie in an enclave of Long Island's Sag Harbor, the summer home to many African American urban professionals. Benji's a Converse-wearing, Smiths-loving, Dungeons & Dragons-playing nerd whose favorite Star Wars character is the hapless bounty hunter Greedo (rather than the double-crossing Lando Calrissian). But Sag Harbor is a coming-of-age novel whose plot side-steps life-changing events writ large. The book's leisurely eight chapters mostly concern Benji's first kiss, the removal of braces, BB gun battles, slinging insults (largely unprintable "grammatical acrobatics") with his friends, and working his first summer job. And Whitehead crafts a wonderful set piece describing Benji's days at Jonni Waffle Ice Cream, where he is shrouded in "waffle musk" and a dirty T-shirt that's "soiled, covered with batter and befudged from a sundae mishap."
Whitehead pushes his love of pop culture into hyper-drive. Nearly every page is swimming with references to the 1980s--from New Coke and The Cosby Show to late nights trying to decipher flickering glimpses of naked women on scrambled Cinemax. And music courses through the book, capturing that period when early hip hop mixed with New Wave. Lisa Lisa and U.T.F.O make a memorable cameo at Jonni Waffle, and McFadden & Whitehead's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now"--heard throughout the book in passing cars and boom boxes--gets tagged as "the black national anthem." Like that ubiquitous song, the soulful, celebratory, and painfully funny Sag Harbor and its chronicle of those lazy, sun-soaked days sandwiched between Memorial Day and Labor Day, will stick with you long after closing its covers. --Brad Thomas Parsons
The Colossus of
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Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Anchor (October 12, 2004)
Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
In a dazzlingly original work of nonfiction, the award-winning
novelist Colson Whitehead re-creates the exuberance, the chaos, the
promise, and the heartbreak of New York. Here is a literary love song
that will entrance anyone who has lived in'or spent time'in the greatest
of American cities.
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.
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Format: Hardcover, 400pp.
Publisher: Vintage Anchor Publishing
Pub. Date: May 2001
Edition Desc: 1 ED
Whitehead's novel, immortalizes the African American folk hero, "John Henry". Centered around the unveiling of a commemorative stamp to honor the former slave, the story combines, through multi-dimensions of characters and exploits, the dilemmas and dualities of man, machine, history, myth, popular culture and racism. Whitehead lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The Intuitionist is a tale of race, mystery and suspense in a time and place that is similar to ours. Lila Mae Watson is the first black elevator inspector. When an elevator in the new government building, that Lila Mae inspected, falls, it is up to Lila Mae to discover what happened. Whitehead is another author that I have my eye on. The Intuitionist is a gem. --Thumper, AALBC.com
Colson Whitehead Official Website
NY Times Review by Jonathan Franzen
Walter Mosley Meets Colson Whitehead
from the May/June 2001 issue od Book Managzine
... Buy The Intuitionist The Intuitionist - Colson Whitehead
BCALA 2002 Literary
... and Noble. Fiction Honor Books John Henry Days, Colson Whitehead
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