Colson Whitehead has won the $15,000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for the second time, with his new novel The Nickel Road, published by Doubleday in the US. He won the prize in 2017 for The Underground Railroad, also published by Doubleday. The latter was published in Arabic by Sharjah’s Kalimat in the United Arab Emirates, but Whitehead’s agent Nicole Aragi at Aragi Inc in New York Arabic confirms that Arabic rights are still available for The Nickel Road.
In their citation, the judges of this year’s prize – announced on 4 May – described The Nickel Road as “a spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption.
‘Jim Crow’ is the term used to describe all manner of discrimination against black Americans. It takes its name from a minstrel figure created by a white actor in the nineteenth century who would dress in rags and use burnt cork to darken his skin in a mocking exaggerated imitation of black Americans
Whitehead now joins a small, distinguished group of writers who have won the Pulitzer prize twice. They are John Updike, William Faulkner and the little-known Booth Tarkington.
Born in 1969 and raised in Manhattan, after graduating from Harvard College, Whitehead started working at the Village Voice, where he wrote reviews of television, books, and music. He has written seven novels and two collections of non-fiction. His novel The Underground Railroad, was published in the summer of 2016. It won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and was a #1 New York TimesBestseller.
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 taught at a wide variety of universities, including Columbia University, Brooklyn College, New York University and Princeton University. He has also been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming
The Pulitzer Prizes take their name from the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer and were founded in 1917.