Colson Whitehead became the rare author to receive Pulitzers for consecutive books when his novel about a brutal Florida reform school during the Jim Crow era, The Nickel Boys, was awarded the fiction prize Monday.
Three years ago, he won for his Civil War era novel The Underground Railroad.
Pulitzer judges praised The Nickel Boys as "a spare and devastating exploration of abuse” that is "ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption.”
Whitehead, 50, is known for his experimental narratives and immersion in American history and folklore. His previous works include John Henry Days and The Intuitionist.
In a statement issued through his publisher, Doubleday, Whitehead said the news of his winning Monday was "pretty nuts!" "Obviously I’m very honoured and I hope that it raises awareness of the real life model for the novel – The Dozier School for Boys – so that the victims and their stories are not forgotten, ” he said.
William Faulkner and John Updike are among the previous fiction writers to win more than one Pulitzer, but not for books that immediately followed the other.
The initial Pulitzer ceremony, which had been scheduled for April 20, was pushed to give Pulitzer Board members more time to evaluate the finalists because of the pandemic. – By Mesfin Fekadu and Mark Kenney/AP