Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
“It’s harrowing and upsetting but also brilliantly written with a surprise twist thrown in” – Mervyn
Colson Whitehead’s second Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Nickel Boys, is set in segregationist Virginia and follows Elwood Curtis. Through one small error of judgment, Elwood’s life is changed when he is sent to a brutal Florida reform school called Nickel. This tightly wrought novel demonstrates to superb effect how racism in America has long operated as a codified and sanctioned activity. At Nickel, boys are supposed to be able to advance their release date through good behaviour, but nobody really knows how the system of merits and demerits works. It appears that all that really matters are the whims of the white person in charge. Nickel is a microcosm of a corrupt world, in which the rule of law is meaningless and the real laws are unwritten.