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Plummeting Deep into Cold Pop

Zachary Leader: Colson Whitehead

13 December 2001
John Henry Days 
by Colson Whitehead.
Fourth Estate, 389 pp., £12, June 2001, 1 84115 569 1
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... ColsonWhitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist (1999), won several prizes and extravagant praise from American critics. Whitehead is black and comparisons were made to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed. John Updike has called him ‘blithely gifted’, ‘the young African-American writer to watch’. Whitehead’s ...

Fried Fish

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Colson Whitehead

17 November 2016
The Underground Railroad 
by Colson Whitehead.
Fleet, 320 pp., £14.99, October 2016, 978 0 7088 9839 0
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... escape from southern bondage into tenuous northern freedom – it would have been difficult to imagine a less obvious candidate for the title of Woke Black Artist of the Year than the 47-year-old ColsonWhitehead. He distinguished himself in his late twenties with his first novel, The Intuitionist (1999), an explosively original story set in a fantastical world of elevator inspectors, and quickly ...

Les zombies, c’est vous

Thomas Jones: Zombies

26 January 2012
Zone One 
by Colson Whitehead.
Harvill Secker, 259 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 1 84655 598 5
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... reanimated by radiation from a space probe Nasa destroyed on its way back from Venus. In later stories zombieism is more likely to be caused by a virus or genetic mutation, and is often – as in ColsonWhitehead’s Zone One – spread by biting. Night of the Living Dead subverted the genre even as it was inventing it. The hero, famously and unprecedentedly, is black. According to Romero this wasn ...

Edited by Somerset Maugham

Wyatt Mason: Bedtime stories for adults

17 March 2005
Pieces for the Left Hand: 100 Anecdotes 
by J. Robert Lennon.
Granta, 213 pp., £10, March 2005, 1 86207 740 1
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... Lennon. At 34, Lennon, already the author of four novels, plots his books with a rigour and restraint uncharacteristic of writers of his generation. Whereas his immediate contemporaries Dave Eggers, ColsonWhitehead and Mark Danielewski all thrive on – and have in part made themselves known for – work that brims with clever digression, Lennon includes only what advances his plots and broadens our ...

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