Colson Whitehead, born and raised in Manhattan, began his writing career while finishing his undergraduate education at Harvard College. After graduating, he wrote book, film, and music reviews for the Village Voice, a New York City-based newspaper. He published his first novel, The Intuitionist, in 1999 and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for a debut novel—one of many awards for which Whitehead's work has since been nominated. He went on to publish seven more novels and two works of non-fiction. The Underground Railroad, published in 2016, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as well as a National Book Award. In 2019, Whitehead continued his success with the release of The Nickel Boys, which was published in July 2019 to wide critical acclaim. The Nickel Boys gained Whitehead his second Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; he is the fourth writer in history to receive the award twice. Whitehead's most recent novel, Harlem Shuffle, was released in September 2021.
Whitehead's work is known for exploring themes of racial inequality, gender, and social class. He has been hailed as one of America's most relevant and innovative contemporary authors, praised by the likes of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and John Updike. He has received the Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships for his work. Whitehead currently resides in Manhattan and has taught at several universities around the United States over the course of his career.