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What the Nickel Boys saw

Colson Whitehead's novel of racial injustice poleaxes the reader

By Anthony Cummins   October 2019
Colson Whitehead in 2011

Colson Whitehead in 2011

The sense of mischief that led Colson Whitehead to write Zone One, a zombie yarn set in post-9/11 New York, was still just about present in his Pulitzer Prize-winning slavery novel, The Underground Railroad, which turned the metaphorical network cited by the title into an actual railway.

His new book suggests he’s given up on games. Set in 1960s Florida, it draws on the true case of a juvenile penal institution whose wards were abused and murdered in crimes that came…

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