The Nickel Boys: Exclusive Edition (Hardback)Colson Whitehead (author)
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Throbbing with righteous anger and visceral prose, The Nickel Boys takes the real-life Florida reform school as a jumping off point to explore the tensions inherent in the US Civil Rights movement. Powerful and incendiary, The Nickel Boys cements Whitehead’s formidable reputation as one of the greatest living American writers.
Available for a limited time, this highly collectable Waterstones edition features a beautiful cover with foil embossed lettering and includes an exclusive introduction from Colson Whitehead.
Written in Whitehead’s characteristically electric prose, this introduction provides new insights into the true story that inspired The Nickel Boys. Examining why such stories are essential to understanding the legacy of America’s past, Whitehead shines a light on the tensions and divisions shaping the country - and the world - today.
If there is one Dozier, there are dozens of reform schools where the same tragedies unfold. Maybe it’s not a reform school, but an orphanage. A home for unwed mothers in Ireland. A residential school in Canada, where indigenous children are ripped from their families so that they can be tutored in white culture. Or it’s a for-profit incarceration camp on our southern border, where refugee children sleep in cages. It’s any place where a culture of impunity reigns, destroys, ruins. That’s the thing about numbers – they calculate our common humanity, and multiply our human weakness.
Extract from our exclusive introduction by Colson Whitehead
Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead, brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in 1960s Florida.
Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clearsighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide 'physical, intellectual and moral training' which will equip its inmates to become 'honorable and honest men'.
In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear 'out back'.
Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King's ringing assertion, 'Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.' But Elwood's fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.
The tension between Elwood's idealism and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions.
Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Number of pages: 224
Dimensions: 222 x 138 mm
'A worthy and singular novel to follow the landmark achievement of The Underground Railroad.' - The Observer
'A lean, commanding page turner that procides the richest fictional experience of 2019 so far' - The Sunday Times
'This is a simple yetbreathtaking novel, gathering force to the bitter end, striking the reader in its final pages with a revelatory force.' The Financial Times
'I would wish everyone, black or white, to read this novel.' - The Guardian
'Masterfully told. From the first pages Whitehead skillfully witholds, hitting you with an emotional uppercut just when your guard finally slips.' - The Daily Telegraph
'Quietly and purposefully heartbreaking in its portrayal of the lifelong legacy of abuse, it is quite outstanding.' - The Daily Mail
Praise for Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad:
'My book of the year by some distance... luminous, furious, wildly inventive' - The Observer
'An engrossing and harrowing novel' - The Sunday Times
'Tells one of the most compelling stories I have ever read' - The Guardian
'Whitehead is a superb storyteller... [he] brilliantly intertwines his allegory with history... writing at the peak of his game' - The Telegraph
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The Nickel Boys is a careful bruise of a novel. Whitehead's calm, measured prose delivers the friendship of Elwood and Turner and, at the same time, of America's categorical abuse of a huge portion of its... More
“Real life story fictionalised expertly”
Loved this book. It’s heartbreaking but expertly crafted. Endearing protagonist who endures many injustices and abuse. Thoroughly researched brilliantly written as expected from this author. Great read
“Shawshank Redemption for the 21st Century”
Colson Whitehead's next book after the Pulitzer prize winning The Underground Railroad was always going to be a tough act to follow. But, The Nickel Boys is a compelling and compulsive read that just blew me away... More
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