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Colson Whitehead, in conversation with Mitchell S. Jackson (Rebroadcast)

Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, interviewed by Mitchell S. Jackson.

In this episode of The Archive Project, we’re reaching back into the archive to 2020, to a virtual conversation with Colson Whitehead from Portland Arts & Lectures. It was, in fact, our very first virtual event of the pandemic and while we are so glad to be back live, it is fascinating to hear again from that time period. We’ve chosen to broadcast this conversation now because Whitehead has just published a new novel called Crook Manifesto.

There are few writers who are both as versatile and accomplished as Colson Whitehead. His subjects have ranged from elevator inspectors, to middle-class Black American suburbia, to the World Series of Poker; he has written noir, a zombie thriller, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel, and historical fiction. At the same time, he has won dozens of awards and accolades, most recently culminating in two Pulitzer Prizes—one for The Underground Railroad, and the other for the novel The Nickel Boys.

Whitehead’s significant contributions to literature come about not only because of his mastery of the craft, but also because he has range—he deploys pop culture, history, and a variety of literary techniques. And by doing so, he gives his stories new life, helping readers see sometimes familiar subjects in a new light. His interview here with Mitchell S. Jackson explores Whitehead’s writing craft, inspirations, and thoughts on current events in America.


Find your copy of The Nickel Boys through
the LITERARY ARTS PAGE ON BOOKSHOP.ORG.


Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, which in 2016 won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the National Book Award and was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, as well as The Noble HustleZone OneSag HarborThe IntuitionistJohn Henry DaysApex Hides the Hurt, and The Colossus of New York. He is also a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. He lives in New York City.

Mitchell S. Jackson is the winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and the 2021 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing. Jackson is the critically acclaimed author of The Residue YearsSurvival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, Fly: The Big Book of Basketball Fashion,and John of Watts (to be published soon). His writing has been featured on the cover of the New York Times Book ReviewTimeEsquire, and Marie Claire, as well as in The New YorkerHarpersThe New York Times, and elsewhere. Jackson’s nonfiction book Survival Math was published in 2019 and named a best book of the year by fifteen publications, including NPR, TimeThe Paris ReviewThe RootKirkus Reviews, and Buzzfeed. Jackson is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, covers race and culture as the first Black columnist in the history of Esquire, and serves as the John O. Whiteman Dean’s Distinguished Professor in the English Department of Arizona State University.

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