Account Login Winnipeg Toll-Free: 1-800-561-1833 SK Toll-Free: 1-877-506-7456 Contact & Locations

Our September Author of the Month: COLSON WHITEHEAD

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021 at 12:07pm

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. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction again in 2020 for The Nickel Boys, and is also the author of The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and The Colossus of New York. He is a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships.

Whitehead’s new novel, Harlem Shuffle, is a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s. "Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…" To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time. Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.

• Please join us for Colson Whitehead #IndieEventsWith on September 29 at 7:00 pm (virtual via Zoom).

Categories: Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Author of the Month

More articles from books

See:

Harlem Shuffle

- by Colson Whitehead

Hardcover $36.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $32.40

From two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

"Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked. . . ."

To his customers and neighbours on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver's Row don't approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it's still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time. See, cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn't see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn't ask questions. Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plans to rob the Hotel Theresa--the "Waldorf of Harlem"--and volunteers Ray's services as the fence. The heist doesn't go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord and numerous other Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle is driven by an ingeniously intricate plot that plays out in a beautifully recreated Harlem of the early 1960s. It's a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem. But mostly, it's a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.

The Underground Railroad

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $22.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $20.66

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this #1 New York Times bestseller chronicles a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. The basis for the acclaimed original Amazon Prime Video series directed by Barry Jenkins.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood--where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.

In Colson Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage--and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Look for Colson Whitehead's new novel, Harlem Shuffle!

The Intuitionist

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $22.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $19.80

This debut novel by the two time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer.

Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read

It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it.  There are two warring factions within the department:  the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects.  

Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department.  But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues.  It's an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist.  But Lila Mae is never wrong.

The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism's founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir.  The notebooks describe Fulton's work on the "black box," a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century.  When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever.

Look for Colson Whitehead's new novel, Harlem Shuffle!

John Henry Days

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $22.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $20.66

From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys

Colson Whitehead's triumphant novel is on one level a multifaceted retelling of the story of John Henry, the black steel-driver who died outracing a machine designed to replace him. On another level it's the story of a disaffected, middle-aged black journalist on a mission to set a record for junketeering who attends the annual John Henry Days festival. It is also a high-velocity thrill ride through the tunnel where American legend gives way to American pop culture, replete with p. r. flacks, stamp collectors, blues men , and turn-of-the-century song pluggers.

John Henry Days
is an acrobatic, intellectually dazzling, and laugh-out-loud funny book that will be read and talked about for years to come.

Look for Colson Whitehead's new novel, Harlem Shuffle!

The Nickel Boys

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $19.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $17.96

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Fiction
Finalist for the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award
Finalist for the 2021 DUBLIN Literary Awards
Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Awards
Longlisted for the 2020 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction

In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

 
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grand-mother, Elwood is a high school senior about to start classes at a local college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual, and moral training" so that the delinquent boys in its charge can become "honorable and honest men."
 
In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks that Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.
 
The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision with repercussions that will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.
 
Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

Sag Harbor

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $22.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $20.66

From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys: a hilarious and supremely original novel set in the Hamptons in the 1980s, "a tenderhearted coming-of-age story fused with a sharp look at the intersections of race and class" (The New York Times).
 
Benji Cooper is one of the few Black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. But every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of Black professionals have built a world of their own.
 
The summer of '85 won't be without its usual trials and tribulations, of course. There will be complicated new handshakes to fumble through and state-of-the-art profanity to master. Benji will be tested by contests big and small, by his misshapen haircut (which seems to have a will of its own), by the New Coke Tragedy, and by his secret Lite FM addiction. But maybe, just maybe, this summer might be one for the ages.

Look for Colson Whitehead's bestselling new novel, Harlem Shuffle!

The Colossus of New York

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $22.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $19.80

In a dazzlingly original work of nonfiction, the two time Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys recreates the exuberance, the chaos, the promise, and the heartbreak of New York.

Here is a literary love song that will entrance anyone who has lived in--or spent time--in the greatest of American cities.

A masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, The Colossus of New York captures the city's inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories. Colson Whitehead conveys with almost uncanny immediacy the feelings and thoughts of longtime residents and of newcomers who dream of making it their home; of those who have conquered its challenges; and of those who struggle against its cruelties.

Whitehead's style is as multilayered and multifarious as New York itself: Switching from third person, to first person, to second person, he weaves individual voices into a jazzy musical composition that perfectly reflects the way we experience the city. There is a funny, knowing riff on what it feels like to arrive in New York for the first time; a lyrical meditation on how the city is transformed by an unexpected rain shower; and a wry look at the ferocious battle that is commuting. The plaintive notes of the lonely and dispossessed resound in one passage, while another captures those magical moments when the city seems to be talking directly to you, inviting you to become one with its rhythms.

The Colossus of New York is a remarkable portrait of life in the big city. Ambitious in scope, gemlike in its details, it is at once an unparalleled tribute to New York and the ideal introduction to one of the most exciting writers working today.

Look for Colson Whitehead's new novel, Harlem Shuffle!

Apex Hides the Hurt

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $22.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $19.80

This New York Times Notable Book from the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys is a brisk, comic tour de force about identity, history, and the adhesive bandage industry.

The town of Winthrop has decided it needs a new name. The resident software millionaire wants to call it New Prospera; the mayor wants to return to the original choice of the founding black settlers; and the town's aristocracy sees no reason to change the name at all. What they need, they realize, is a nomenclature consultant. And, it turns out, the consultant needs them. But in a culture overwhelmed by marketing, the name is everything and our hero's efforts may result in not just a new name for the town but a new and subtler truth about it as well.

Look for Colson Whitehead's new novel, Harlem Shuffle!

Zone One

- by Colson Whitehead

Trade paperback $22.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $19.80

From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys

A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. After the worst of the plague is over, armed forces stationed in Chinatown's Fort Wonton have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street--aka Zone One. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the three-person civilian sweeper units tasked with clearing lower Manhattan of the remaining feral zombies. Zone One unfolds over three surreal days in which Spitz is occupied with the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder (PASD), and the impossible task of coming to terms with a fallen world. And then things start to go terribly wrong...

At once a chilling horror story and a literary novel by a contemporary master, Zone One is a dazzling portrait of modern civilization in all its wretched, shambling glory.

Look for Colson Whitehead's new novel, Harlem Shuffle!