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The Nickel Boys
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About the Author

Colson Whitehead is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. A Pulitzer Prize winner and a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.

Reviews

From the award-winning author of The Underground Railroad comes another searing novel exploring America's racially troubled past . . . a real page-turner * Mail on Sunday *
A commanding triumph . . . brilliant and furious . . . a lean, commanding page turner that provides the richest fictional experience of 2019 so far . . . the prose is so loaded with quicksilver wit, it holds you in its thrall. It is a novel that not only succeeds in character, plot and moral argument but lends grace to lives all too easily shattered . . . The compressed fury of Whitehead's writing is what propels the novel forward - he is one of only a handful of writers who is so brilliant you just want to feed him stories. He has a distinctive voice, at once cynical and compassionate, and his wry observations cut to the quick in ways that make other novelists look prissy or too anxious to please. There is barely a paragraph of The Nickel Boys without some felicitous touch * Sunday Times *
[Whitehead] has produced yet another modern classic . . . He's also adept at creating characters of unforgettable flesh-and-blood immediacy, with even the swiftest pen portrait conveying the full weight of a lived history. Quietly and purposefully heartbreaking in its portrayal of the lifelong legacy of abuse, it is quite outstanding -- Stephanie Cross * Daily Mail *
Forceful and tightly wrought . . . Whitehead homes in on the way in which every action fits into a fully orchestrated whole, which is why I would wish everyone, black or white, to read this novel. He demonstrates to superb effect how racism in America has long operated as a codified and sanctioned activity intended to enrich one group at the expense of another * Guardian *
If greatness is excellence sustained over time, then without question, Whitehead is one of the greatest of his generation. In fact, figuring his age, acclaim, productivity and consistency, he is one of the greatest American writers alive * Time *
There's hardly a spare word in this book . . . Whitehead has a talent for creating ambiguous, complex scenes that fix in your memory. The Nickel Boys feels like a necessary fictional project, writing the blank or buried pages of US history; and it's done with virtuosity * Evening Standard *
A furious, compassionate novel whose final sleight of hand will twist deep in your gut -- Claire Allfree * Metro *
A masterful piece of very human storytelling -- Nikesh Shukla * i *
Colson Whitehead's book is not a polemic, but in presenting the unconscionable history of this particular institution, keeping boys in solitary confinement or even burying them "out the back", he once again builds an allegorical history that resonates in the present -- Tim Adams * Observer *
Whitehead renders a terrifying world in disarming terms, lovingly guiding his reader to recognize the lasting impact of a cruel era * Time *
Searing . . . the story is masterfully told -- Duncan White * Telegraph *
if there's a more powerful novel this year, I'd be very surprised * Reader's Digest *
A tense, nervy performance, even more rigorously controlled than its predecessor. The narration is disciplined and the sentences plain and sturdy, oars cutting into the water. Every chapter hits its mark * New York Times *
Whitehead wields his mastery over character and narrative in service of dramatising the Jim Crow era to piercing effect, following the lives of two boys sentenced to a brutal reform school in 1960s Florida * Time magazine (Best books of the decade) *
The Nickel Boys is in conversation with works by James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and especially Martin Luther King . . . It shreds our easy confidence in the triumph of goodness and leaves in its place a hard and bitter truth about the ongoing American experiment * Washington Post *
Haunting and haunted . . . devastating . . . The book feels like a mission, and it's an essential one . . . he pulls off a brilliant sleight of hand that elevates the mere act of resurrecting Elwood's buried story into at once a miracle and a tragedy * New York Times Book Review *
[The Nickel Boys] has the hot breath of a true story. It also has a beautiful, unforgettable young hero who walks right off the page into your heart . . . If you have been thinking you should read Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys is the perfect place to start * Newsweek *
The best American novel I read this year was The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, a story of courage, cruelty and perversion, set in a Southern reform school in the early 1960s. Not comfortable reading, but compelling -- Allan Massie * Scotsman *
Whitehead's most emotionally resonant novel to date . . . he allows us to feel, and to ache, too * Times Literary Supplement *
What elevates Whitehead's treatment of race and American brutality is the elegance of its style and the satisfying inventiveness of its form * Spectator *
Whitehead lays bare the brutality of recent US history and the legacy its victims carry to the bitter end * Financial Times *
The Nickel Boys lifts the lid on the racist brutality of reform schools in the Jim Crow-era south * Guardian *
A masterful novel . . . will floor you * Daily Mail *
Not a moment is wasted, and for someone who writes as vividly as Whitehead, there's also a graceful economy here. He uses words carefully, as if he doesn't want them to get in the way of the truths he's excavating * Boston Globe *
Whitehead's brilliant examination of America's history of violence is a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight * Publishers Weekly *
Spare and unforgettable -- Ann Patchett * Sunday Telegraph *
Tackles a subject more recent than slavery but just as heart-wrenching . . . Based on a true story, The Nickel Boys is a haunting account of young lives whose promise was cut cruelly short * Daily Mail *
As extraordinary as everyone says -- Richard Osman * Guardian *

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