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A Second Pulitzer for Colson Whitehead

5.4.20

Photograph of Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead
Photograph by Chris Close 


Colson Whitehead
Photograph by Chris Close 

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.”

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