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Author Colson Whitehead is UW Eminent Writer in Residence

August 12, 2011
Colson Whitehead

Award-winning author Colson Whitehead will read from his works and sign books at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22, in the University of Wyoming College of Business auditorium.

Author of four novels, an essay collection and numerous reviews, Whitehead is UW's MFA Program in Creative Writing's first 2011-2012 Eminent Writer in Residence. He received a MacArthur Fellowship and the Whiting Writers Award and has contributed works to the New York Times, The New Yorker and Harper's. 

His latest novel, "Zone One," will be published in October.  A post-apocalyptic tale of zombies in New York City, the book has been praised by critics as "the kind of smart, funny, pop culture-filled tale that would make George Romero proud ... [Whitehead] succeeds brilliantly with a fresh take on survival, grief, 9/11, AIDS, global warming, nuclear holocaust, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Pol Pot's Year Zero, Missouri tornadoes, and the many other disasters both natural and not that keep a stranglehold on our fears."

During his two-week residency at UW, Whitehead will visit university classes, consult on manuscripts with graduate creative writing students and discuss writing with individuals and groups. Creative writing student Tim Raymond notes, "The MFA program just keeps bringing people whose work makes me want to write better. Colson Whitehead will be a wonderful and exciting guest."

Creative Writing Professor Alyson Hagy says, "Colson Whitehead is one of those smart, fearless young writers who is difficult to categorize.  His books are ambitious, but they're never derivative or predictable.  Whitehead's commitment to risk and innovation make him a great fit for the UW MFA Program."

Whitehead's first novel, "The Intuitionist," involved intrigue in the Department of Elevator Inspectors. It was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award and won the Quality Paperback Book Club's New Voices Award.

"John Henry Days" followed in 2001, an investigation of the steel-driving man of American folklore. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The novel received the Young Lions Fiction Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

In 2006, he published "Apex Hides the Hurt," a novel about a "nomenclature consultant," which won the PEN/Oakland Award.  "Sag Harbor," published in 2009, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Whitehead's residency will be followed by two more Eminent Writer residencies this year: Poet Ed Roberson in September and the nonfiction writer John D'Agata in February. 

For more information about Whitehead and the Eminent Writer in Residence program, visit the MFA website at  or email Gwynn Lemler at

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