An Evening With Colson Whitehead
Oxford Exchange and Tampa Theatre collaborate again for a special OE Spotlight conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times Bestselling author, Colson Whitehead, in celebration of the release of his forthcoming book, The Nickel Boys.
The NYC native and Harvard College grad got his start at the Village Voice, writing reviews of television, books, and music. His first novel, The Intuitionist, concerned intrigue in the Department of Elevator Inspectors, and won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award. His sophomore effort about the steel-driving man of American folklore, John Henry Days, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize, among others. But it was his 2016 novel The Underground Railroad that won him the Pulitzer Prize, as well as the National Book Award and the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and it soared to No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
To follow up on Railroad’s success, Whitehead was set to write a crime novel set in Harlem. But he couldn’t stop thinking about a disturbing story he’d read in the paper a few years before: the abuse, neglect and suspicious deaths that took place at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, a reform school in the Florida panhandle that operated for more than a century.
Investigators uncovered more than 50 unmarked graves, and have estimated that more than 100 people died there. Many victims have never been identified.
“It was a story I hadn’t heard before, and it was emblematic of so many injustices that go on every day that you never hear about,” Whitehead says. “The survivors are never heard from, and the guilty are never punished. They live to a ripe old age while their victims are damaged for life. It seemed like a story worth taking up.”
Tickets are $38 for a single admission ticket, and $48 for a double admission ticket at the historic Box Office and online ($1 service fee applies). All ticket packages include a pre-signed copy of The Nickel Boys.