After penning the Pulitzer Prize–winning novels The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, American author Colson Whitehead set out to write a trilogy of stories centred on a furniture salesman-turned-crook named Ray Carney. The first in the series, Harlem Shuffle, is a hugely entertaining tale of race, power and the history of New York in the guise of a page-turning heist novel. Join Colson in conversation with Michael Williams about the book and its forthcoming follow up, Crook Manifesto, which continues the saga in an increasingly combustible 1970s Manhattan.
Colson Whitehead appears thanks to the support of Matthew and Fiona Playfair.

A Sydney Writers’ Festival Live & Local Livestream event.


Colson Whitehead is the author of 11 books of fiction and non-fiction, including The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, both of which were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His latest novel is Harlem Shuffle.


Michael Williams is the editor of The Monthly. He was previously the Artistic Director of Sydney Writers’ Festival which he joined in September 2020, navigating the post-pandemic landscape going into the 2021 festival. He has spent the past decade at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne; as its founding Head of Programming in 2009, and then as its Director from September 2011. A regular host and interviewer for literary and ideas events around Australia – including a long-standing association with Sydney Writers’ Festival – his background is in publishing and broadcasting. He has hosted two shows on ABC Radio National – Blueprint for Living (2015-2016) and Talkfest (2017-2018) – was a regular on ABC TV’s The Book Club, and remains a regular guest on ABC radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing in Australia and New York, and has written extensively for The Guardian, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere. He is currently also host of Guardian Australia’s monthly book club.

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