Colson Whitehead Wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Colson Whitehead Madeline Whitehead

Among the many Pulitzer Prize winners announced on Monday was Colson Whitehead, who has had a long association with Sag Harbor since his youth. Mr. Whitehead won in the fiction category for his book “The Underground Railroad.” 

The book is a historical novel that uses fantasy to answer the question, what if the Underground Railroad were an actual train? A teenage runaway slave travels on it and finds that each state in the South is “an alternate America” filled with its own surreal and actual peril.

Mr. Whitehead was cited for “a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.” The prize is awarded to American authors each year for distinguished work, with a preference for portrayals of American life. It includes a cash award of $15,000.

The author was nominated in 2002 for his book “John Henry Days.” Finalists in this year’s fiction category were Adam Haslett for “Imagine Me Gone” and C.E. Morgan for “The Sport of Kings.”