Pulitzer Prize-winning author to receive Stone Award at OSU

Jada Krening, News Reporter

Author Colson Whitehead will present at Oregon State University and be awarded the Stone Award for Literary Achievement, a biennial award presented to an author of a critically acclaimed work by the OSU School of Writing, Literature and Film, on April 1 in the LaSells Stewart Center.  

Whitehead is the author of six novels, including “The Underground Railroad,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017 and the National Book Award for Fiction in 2016. Moreover, Whitehead was awarded with the Heartland Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Hurston/Wright Fiction Award. “The Underground Railroad” also reached No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Other honors Whitehead has received include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, along with a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

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Previous Stone Award recipients include Joyce Carol Oates, Tobias Wolff and Rita Dove. Stone Award winners are selected in a committee process, according to vice president of University Relations and Marketing, Steve Clark.

“Colson Whitehead is one of this generation’s most prominent literary voices,” director of SWLF,  Peter Betjemann, said via email. “His work has been recognized in a variety of formal ways, but we were particularly attuned to the way in which his work has captured the imaginations of a broad readership and has prompted such vital discussion — on tough, complicated issues — in university classrooms, book clubs and other venues devoted to dialogue and cultural engagement. Whitehead himself is an outstanding teacher and mentor, a key element of the honor recognized by the Stone Award.”

According to Clark, Whitehead will also meet with students while visiting the OSU campus and will participate in Oregon Public Broadcasting’s radio program, “Think Out Loud.”

“We think that having Colson Whitehead visit OSU and discuss his works and perspectives will inform and inspire people of all ages and walks of life,” Clark said via email. “Hosting such a noted author alongside the growing reputation of programs within OSU’s College of Liberal Arts is going to tell the world that Oregon State is a place of powerful creative thinking and extraordinary and socially relevant thought leadership.”

In addition to “The Underground Railroad,” Whitehead’s work includes “The Intuitionist,” “John Henry Days,” “Apex Hides the Hurt,” “Sag Harbor” and “Zone One.” His latest novel will be published this summer, entitled “The Nickel Boys.”

“Can you imagine a student in the fourteenth century passing up a reading by Geoffrey Chaucer, or a reading by the sixteenth century by Shakespeare, or a reading in the nineteenth century by Jane Austen?” Betjemann said via email. “That’s the scale of Whitehead’s achievement in our own times. It’s a landmark opportunity.”

The event in the LaSells Stewart Center at 7:30 p.m. is free and open to the public. To register and obtain a ticket, visit here.