Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 073 – Colson Whitehead

noraandcolson

Colson Whitehead is the author of Zone One; Sag Harbor; The Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award.

noraandcolson

Pul Nora Parker interviewing Colson Whitehead in the Kobo Cafe

Colson is interviewed by Kobo’s Nora Parker about his latest book, The Underground Railroad, which is an Oprah’s Book Club pick

  • Whitehead’s decision to play with the quirky premise of “what if the underground railroad was a real railroad?”
  • The navigation of research and how it gets interwoven into the fiction; but the fact that this is not a historical novel and that it doesn’t stick to any real world chronology
  • The freeing aspect of not being beholden to reality when crafting a novel
  • The manner by which the novel addresses the two opposing viewpoints and biases that take the same passage(s) from the bible and use it to either oppose or support slavery
  • The choice of the opening setting in North Carolina and the different arenas for Cora to be tested, and how that allowed for the examination of different types of racism and social structures
  • The concepts of racism in pre-Civil War America to the concepts of racism as it exists today in modern America
  • The historic use of rendering of dialect in the dialogue between white and black characters compared to how it is done in this novel
  • The music Whitehead listens to while writing, when he listens to Purple Rain from Prince and Debut Nation from Sonic Youth and how David Bowie is in every book
  • How Whitehead felt about being selected for the Oprah Book Club
  • The adept characterization and relationships of the kids in Whitehead’s novel Sag Harbor and how the characters evolved from inspiration from real people into their own unique fictional characters within the novel
colsonwhitehead_signing

Colson Whitehead signing the poster cover for his book

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre talks about the concept of writers listening to music while working and then asks KWL listeners to share their own habits and practices when it comes to listening to (or not listening to) music or other ambient noises while writing in the comments section here on the show notes for Episode 73.

 

Links of Interest

Colson Whitehead’s Website

Colson Whitehead on Twitter

Colson Whitehead’s books on Kobo

 

If you enjoy this podcast and would like to automatically download episodes as they go live – even before the show notes are posted to the Kobo Writing Life website – subscribe to the RSS feed via your favourite pod-capturing platform (such as iTunes) using this link: RSS feed for Kobo Writing Life Podcast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s