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Colson Whitehead: Harlem Shuffle

“No matter what you’re writing about whether it’s slavery or war or family, someone smarter and more talented has already done it better than you could ever do it. You’re not Toni Morrison, you’re not Everett Jones, you’re not Homer writing about war, but you have to trust in your own uniqueness. And if you find the right combination or words, maybe someone will come along for the ride” – Colson Whitehead.

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One of only four writers to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice, Colson Whitehead is the multi-award-winning and bestselling author of works including The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which was also adapted for the small screen, produced and directed by Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins.

Whitehead begun his new Harlem Trilogy with Harlem Shuffle, a genre-hopping family saga that acts as a crime novel, a morality play, a social novel about race and power, and a love letter to Harlem. Its sequel, Crook Manifesto, was published in July 2023.

For the Wheeler Centre’s World of Words, hear from Whitehead live in conversation with journalist and filmmaker Santilla Chingaipe as he shares his creative process bringing bygone eras to life for the modern reader, discusses the challenges and rewards of writing a sequel for the first time, and immerses Melbourne audiences in the world of Harlem Shuffle.


Presented in partnership with RMIT Culture.

This event was supported by the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, a Victorian Government and City of Melbourne partnership.

It was recorded on Wednesday 24 May 2023 at The Capitol as part of the Wheeler Centre’s World of Words series.

Featured music is ‘Natural Habitat’ by Ealot.

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