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Colson Whitehead to Receive the 2025 St. Louis Literary Award

by Maggie Rotermund on 04/25/2024
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ST. LOUIS – Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead will receive the 2025 St. Louis Literary Award from Saint Louis University. Whitehead will come to St. Louis next spring to accept the award. 

The award ceremony will be held in April 2025.

Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead will receive the 2025 St. Louis Literary Award. Photo by Chris Close. 

“The St. Louis Literary Award selection committee, comprised of representatives from Saint Louis University and the St. Louis region, ultimately felt that Colson Whitehead’s versatility as an exceptionally gifted storyteller in fiction, creative nonfiction, and as an essayist helped him stand out that much more from our other esteemed finalists,” said Edward Ibur, St. Louis Literary Award executive director.

“Mr. Whitehead’s often lyrical prose and vivid imagery electrify the worlds and characters he shares with his readers, immersing them in unforgettable stories. So much of Mr. Whitehead’s work is rooted in identity, social justice, race, and culture which all connect strongly to our mission statement: The Saint Louis Literary Award recognizes a living writer with a substantial body of work that has enriched our literary heritage by deepening our insight into the human condition and by expanding the scope of our compassion.

While the process of making the award selection certainly brings a marked degree of anxiety for those of us on the committee, reading Colson Whitehead’s brilliant work was pure joy.”

Whitehead is the author of the novels “The Intuitionist,” “John Henry Days,” “Apex Hides the Hurt,” “Sag Harbor,” “The Underground Railroad,” “The Nickel Boys,” and “Harlem Shuffle,” among others. He also penned a book of essays about New York City, “The Colossus of New York.”

Whitehead graduated from Harvard College and worked as a reviewer of television, books and music at the Village Voice.

In addition to the Pulitzer, “The Underground Railroad,” won the National Book Award and the Carnegie Medal for Fiction. “The Nickel Boys” won the Pulitzer Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.

Whitehead has been a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway, PEN/Faulkner, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award and has received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Whitehead was named the New York State Author in 2018 and awarded the Prize for American Fiction from the Library of Congress in 2020.

Whitehead has taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He has also served as a writer-in-residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.

St. Louis Literary Award 

The St. Louis Literary Award is presented annually by the Saint Louis University Libraries and has become one of the top literary prizes in the country. The award honors a writer who deepens our insight into the human condition and expands the scope of our compassion. Some of the most influential writers of the 20th and 21st centuries have come to Saint Louis University to accept the honor, including Margaret Atwood, Salmon Rushdie, Eudora Welty, John Updike, Saul Bellow, August Wilson, Stephen Sondheim, Zadie Smith and Tom Wolfe.

Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 13,500 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.