Meet The Highly Acclaimed – Colson Whitehead
Through the books, we get to meet some or different characters that we don’t want to forget or let go. What we don’t know (maybe we know but ignorance gets the best of us) is that behind all those protagonist and antagonists are a brilliant minded person ‘The Author’. I feel authors don’t get much credit from the readers the way characters do. Ask yourself have you ever discussed an author at the book club or just with your friends? Do you take time to get to know the author of your favourite book? Let’s start today.
Born on November 6, 1969, in New York- and raised at Manhattan, Colson Whitehead is an author of 6 successful novels. After graduating from Harvard University in 1991 he started his career at The Village Voice as a writer. This is when he started drafting his first novel. Apart from being a good writer Colson is also a husband and a father to his beautiful daughter Madeline Whitehead.
Esquire magazine named The Intuitionist (his first novel, published at 1999) the best first novel of the year, and GQ called it one of the ‘novels of the millennium’. The novel was the finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award. In 2001 he published John Henry Days which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2003 The Colossus of New York, 2006 Apex Hides the Hurt winner of the PEN Oakland Award, 2009 Sag Harbor, 2011 Zone One, a New York Times Bestseller; and 2016’s The Underground Railroad, which earned a National Book Award for Fiction and Pulitzer Prize, Oprah book club pick and Obama, suggested it for summer read list.
Back in 2012, Colson shared with the world the 11 rules for writing. This was basically to help the upcoming writers and motivating them. One of the most important rules that really caught my attention was rule number 2 that says ‘don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you’. In an interview with ‘Talk to Google’ Colson explains this rule further ‘if a story sounds scary or too challenging and beyond the scoop of your powers, maybe that’s the story you should be writing’. As a writer, you are supposed to go for the subjects that are challenging and not the safe ones.
In his interview with Oprah, Colson admitted that his first experience with understating slavery is when he was 7 years old and it’s through watching ‘Roots’; though it took him 16 years to implement the idea of ‘The Underground Railroad’.
Colson is such an inspiration, in his own words ‘write a story, fail, write the second one get better’. Nothing should stop you from being a greater person you want to be. You only loose when you stop trying.