A Second Pulitzer for Colson Whitehead
In 2017, Colson Whitehead ’91 won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his harrowing novel The Underground Railroad, a story that translated that fraught effort to free enslaved people from a historic metaphor to an actual system of tracks and trains propelling Cora, his protagonist, on her northbound escape from slavery. Today Whitehead received a second Pulitzer for his equally harrowing novel The Nickel Boys, honored 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.”
For more about Whitehead, read “A Literary Chameleon,” a profile from this magazine’s archives.
The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry was awarded to another Harvard affiliate, Jericho Brown, a Radcliffe Institute Fellow in 2009-2010, for The Tradition, “A collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.”