Writers Who Read #26

6 December 2020

The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead

Author/Publisher Intent

Stylistic Choices

Structure, Pacing

Climax - what changed?

Scene sleuthing

The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead

  • Marketing: African American Literature, African American Literary Fiction, Historical African Fiction
  • Genre: Realistic Present-Day / Historical Arch-Plot Long-Form
  • Word count: 58,482
  • Print Pages: 210
  • Reading Level: 8th grade

  • POV: mostly Elwood -> Turner

  • Publish date: July 16, 2019
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Sold By: Random House
  • Audio book narration: JD Jackson, Colson Whitehead

  • Prizes: 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • The Underground Railroad - 2017 Pulitzer Prize
  • Arch Colson Chipp Whitehead

  • Harvard class of 1991
  • then wrote for the Village Voice

  • Authored 6 other novels
  • The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, Sag Harbor, Zone One, The Underground Railroad
  • . . . and 2 non-fiction books
  • ALL published by Doubleday

  • Taught at Princeton, Columbia, et al
  • Writer-in-Residence at Vassar, U Richmond, U Wyoming

Whitehead has described the characters as "two different parts of my personality", with Elwood Curtis being "the optimistic or hopeful part of me that believes we can make the world a better place if we keep working at it", and Jack Turner, "the cynical side that says no—this country is founded on genocide, murder, and slavery and it will always be that way."


Sentiment / Timeline

Around the Table

Please use passages from the book

Writers Who Read: Coming Up

January 3: A Burning (India, 2020) - Megha Majumdar
February 7: Red Pill (England, 2020) - Hari Kunzru
March 7: Interior Chinatown (USA, 2020) - Charles Yu
April 4: Apeirogon (Ireland, 2020) - Colum McCann
May 2: The Lying Life of Adults (Italy, trans. 2020 by Ann Goldstein)
- Elena Ferrante

Thanks to: Boulder Writers Alliance

Contact Gary: hello@garyalanmcbride.com
Literary Forensics Resources