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Colson Whitehead Colson Whitehead THU, FEB 15, 2018, 7:30 PM Benaroya Hall \ S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium Co-Presented by The Seattle Times  

"I'm just trying to keep things rich for me creatively and for the readers who follow me."         —Colson Whitehead

“As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.” —The National Book Award Judges’ Citation

"With this novel, Colson Whitehead proves that he belongs on any short list of America's greatest authors—his talent and range are beyond impressive and impossible to ignore. The Underground Railroad is an American masterpiece, as much a searing document of a cruel history as a uniquely brilliant work of fiction." —Michael Schaub, NPR

“[A] potent, almost hallucinatory novel…It possesses the chilling matter-of-fact power of the slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, with echoes of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and brush strokes borrowed from Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka and Jonathan Swift…He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present.”           —Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times


One of America’s most daring and inventive writers, Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels Zone One, Sag Harbor,The Intuitionist (a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award), John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award. He has also written a book of essays about his hometown, The Colossus of New York, and a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker called The Noble Hustle. Whitehead is also the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, among other accolades.

His latest novel, The Underground Railroad, is the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The selection board hailed the book as “a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.” In addition, it was the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 2016. The Underground Railroad tells the story of Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, who hears about the Underground Railroad and decides to make her terrifying escape, fleeing state by state, seeking her freedom.

Selected Works:


The Intuitionist (1999)
John Henry Days (2001)
Apex Hides the Hurt (2006)
Sag Harbor (2009)
Zone One (2011)
The Underground Railroad (2016)


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