Author Colson Whitehead takes on a multitude of issues with original wit and a rich imagination. In 1999, he burst onto the literary scene with his award-winning debut novel, The Intuitionist, which concerned the travails of Lila Mae Watson, the first black woman elevator inspector in New York City. His second novel, John Henry Days, followed in 2001 and was met with much critical acclaim. John Updike wrote in a New Yorker review that the novel “does what writing should do; it refreshes our sense of the world. . . . An ambitious, finely chiseled work.” Whitehead is also the author of The Colossus of New York, a collection of essays about his hometown, Apex Hides the Hurt, and Sag Harbor, a novel about teenagers hanging out on Long Island during the summer of 1985. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Granta, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. A recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a MacArthur grant, and a fellowship at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. His forthcoming book, Zone One, is a zombie novel influenced by films Whitehead watched as a child.
Michael Krasny is the host of the KQED radio program Forum. He is also a Professor of English at San Francisco State University and the author of Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life. His many interviews for City Arts & Lectures include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, and Isaac B. Singer.