Author In Depth: Colson Whitehead

Over the past couple of years, I've enjoyed my reading life, usually populating my TBR with "best of" books of the previous year, some new releases that pique my interest, backlist, and Book Riots's Read Harder Challenge. I've done that challenge for three years, and I LOVE it. It's led me to some reading that I never would have picked up, including poetry, and books by more diverse authors. I highly recommend it to you, and I'll go back to it for sure.

This year, I'm going to take hiatus from that challenge in order to do something I haven't had time to: read an author's works in total, from beginning to end. I've heard this called an author's oeuvre, or corpus...but I'm going to call this challenge "Author In Depth." I think its an interesting endeavour, because an author's life, interests, experiences and skill will change over the years, and this might be reflected in their writing. Maybe I can see what the author's journey has been like.

So who first? Hmm....

I try not to be influenced unduly by the Podcasters I love...but I've been listening to the Book Riot Podcast for some time now, and the hosts, Jeff and Rebecca, have talked repeatedly about how great Colson Whitehead's novels are. On and on! Many times! The insistent kernel of an idea planted by them grew through 2021 and now I have no choice but to read all of Whitehead.

He is an American writer born in 1969, and a Harvard graduate living in New York. I imagine him having an overcrowded trophy case, because he's won so many awards. I won't list them here, but notable are the Pulitzer Prizes in 2017 for The Underground Railway, and in 2020 for The Nickel Boys. He spoke at the Vancouver Writers Festival in 2021, and as a Vancouverite I'm sorry I missed it, but I hadn't yet realized I'd be reading all his works in 2022 😉.

To preface my Author In Depth: Colson Whitehead challenge, I will note that I read The Underground Railway several years ago, but I intend to re-read it. I'm not going to read his non-fiction works, but he has published eight novels, so that should keep me busy. As I go, I'll link my reviews to this page.

If you've read some of his novels, or all of them, please do leave a comment about what you thought, or please join me in this challenge!

Links to my Colson Whitehead reviews:

January 14/22: The Intuitionist (1999)
February 24/22: John Henry Days (2001)