‘The Nickel Boys’ by Colson Whitehead

As the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, I had to read this novel. Colston Whitehead is a gifted storyteller, taking you into a world of segregation, racism and brutality but with a graceful aptitude for giving just enough detail without ever over emphasising the point. This is a poignant, heartfelt and beautifully crafted story.

Elwood Curtis is a good boy, brought up by his grandmother and influenced by the words of Dr Martin Luther King in 1960s America. He studies hard and gains a place to read literature at a local college, but fate puts him in the wrong place at the wrong time and he is sent to a youth reformatory school, The Nickel Academy for Boys.

This depiction of Florida during the ‘Jim Crow’ era really captures the heat and tension of life in the south at that time. The harsh existence and suffering of the boys in confinement is depicted with stark clarity and acquiesces into a heart breaking testament to their dignity and ultimate redemption.

Published by Fleet ISBN 0708899420

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