Apr 07 2008

Colson Whitehead

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In 1969 in New York City, Colson Whitehead was born.  He grew up in Manhattan.  He attended Trinity School, eventually attending Harvard College, the undergraduate college of Harvard Universtiy.  He graduated in 1991.  After graduating, he returned to New York and is now residing in Brooklyn.

            Following graduation, Whitehead worked as an assistant editor for Village Voice.  He then became a pop culture critic where he had the duties of writing reviews for books and music.  Eventually he became the magazines television columnist.  His other writings have been featured in Vibe, New York Times, New York Magazine, and Newsday

            Whitehead had his first novel, The Intuitionist, published in 1999 and won a Whiting Writers’ Award in 2000.  He was also praised as “Writer on the Verge” by the Voice Literary Supplement.  The novel was well-liked by many, including Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle, who named it the Best Book of the Year, and GQ, who named it one of the Top Twenty Books of the Millennium.  The next novel that was published was John Henry Days in 2001.  It was named one of the “Best 5 Books of the Year” by New York Times and was acclaimed by Newsweek, the Washington Post, and USA Today to name a few.  The novel was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Anisfield-Wolf Prize for its issues of race and the Young Lions Award.

            In 2002, Whitehead received the MacArthur Fellowship.  The following year his third book, The Colossus of New York, was published; his only nonfiction book to date.  Next to be published was Apex Hides the Hurt in 2006.  It was renowned as one of the New York Times’ 100 Most Notable Books of the Year and was well-received by Entertainment Weekly, the New York Observer, and the Charleston Gazette.












Whitehead, Colson. Apex Hides the Hurt. New York: Anchor Books, 2007.

Whitehead, Colson. John Henry Days. New York: Anchor Books, 2001.

Whitehead, Colson. The Colossus of New York. New York, Anchor Books, 2004.

Whitehead, Colson. The Intuitionist. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. Annotated Bibliography

1.) Aubrey, Bryan.  “The Intuitionist.”  Work Analysis on Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist. Magill’s Literary Annual 2000.  Salem Press, Inc. 

 Aubrey writes about Whitehead’s work, The Intuitionist and explores deep seriousness issues of racism and urban decay, as well as different ideas about ways of acquiring knowledge.


2.) Bérubé, Michael. “Race and Modernity in Colson Whitehead’s the Intuitionist.” The Holodeck in the Garden: Science and Technology in Contemporary American Fiction. Ed. Peter Freese and Charles B. Harris. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive, xxviii, 2004. 163-178.

The essay examines the themes of race and modernity in the novel “The Intuitionist,” by Whitehead.  A plot overview is given of the novel along with a description of the physical and social setting.  The prominence of the main character’s disability is examined.

3.) Butler, Robert. “The Postmodern City in Colson Whitehead’s the Colossus of New York and Jeffrey Renard Allen’s Rails Under My Back.” CLA Journal 48.1 (2004): 71-87.

4.) Cassidy, Thomas.  “John Henry Days.”  Work Analysis on Colson Whitehead’s John HenryDays.  Magill’s Literary Annual 2002.  Salem Press, Inc.

 This is a review done of Whitehead’s novel, John Henry Days. Cassidy claim this book takes on a “serio-comic” view of race and the meaning in American life.  

5.) Liggins, Saundra. “The Urban Gothic Vision of Colson Whitehead’s the Intuitionist (1999).” African American Review 40.2 (2006): 358-69

This article discusses how Whitehead’s book, The Intuitionist, fits into contemporary African American gothic literature. Whitehead uses gothic landscape and conventions to show African American’s struggle for upward mobility and their bleak outlook on life. Liggins argues that the setting of the story illustrates the isolation African Americans face. Whitehead sets up a contrast with the poverty and prosperity of the characters, showing the racial and gender discrimination that took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s.


6.) Sherman, Suzan. “Colson Whitehead.” Bomb 76 (2001): 74-80.

Sherman writes about Whitehead’s metaphors for upward mobility, race, and religion in the book, The Intuitionist. She also writes about other works by Whitehead, including his ability to bring forgotten parts of history back into modern day in John Henry Days.  

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