From Pulitzer Glory to Harlem’s Heart: The Extraordinary Journey of Colson Whitehead
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead has been announced as the recipient of the prestigious Langston Hughes Medal at the 45th annual Langston Hughes Festival, set to take place at the City College of New York (CCNY) on February 1, 2024.
The Langston Hughes Medal is a highly esteemed award presented to distinguished writers from the African American diaspora. It acknowledges individuals for their outstanding contributions to poetry, fiction, drama, autobiography, and critical essays that celebrate the memory and tradition of Langston Hughes. Colson Whitehead joins an illustrious list of past recipients, including literary giants such as James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou.
Colson Whitehead secured his first Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for his groundbreaking novel “The Underground Railroad.” This critically acclaimed work, a #1 New York Times bestseller, not only earned him the Pulitzer but also received the National Book Award and the Carnegie Medal for Fiction.
Two years later, Whitehead clinched his second Pulitzer Prize for “The Nickel Boys,” a novel inspired by the tragic events at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Florida. The book also garnered the Kirkus Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.
In addition to his Pulitzer-winning novels, Whitehead’s literary prowess is evident in a series of remarkable works:
- The Intuitionist: His debut novel, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and winner of the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award.
- John Henry Days: A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.
- Apex Hides the Hurt: PEN/Oakland Award winner.
- Sag Harbor: A finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
- Harlem Shuffle (2021) and Crook Manifesto (2023): The first two installments in his Harlem Trilogy.
Whitehead’s literary contributions extend beyond his novels, with reviews, essays, and fiction appearing in esteemed publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper’s, and Granta.
His remarkable career has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.
In 2018, Colson Whitehead was named the New York State Author, and in 2020, the Library of Congress honored him with the Prize for American Fiction, further solidifying his place among the literary greats of our time.