The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead audiobook

The Nickel Boys: A Novel

By Colson Whitehead
Read by J. D. Jackson

Random House Audio 9780385537070
6.77 Hours Unabridged
Format: Digital Download (In Stock)
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    ISBN: 9781984891389

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    ISBN: 9781984891372

In this bravura follow-up to the aclaimed 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 Jim Crow-era Florida. As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.” In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

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Summary

Summary

New York Times bestseller

Winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction

Finalist for the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Finalist for the 2020 Southern Book Prize for Fiction

Longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize

A 2020 Audie Award Finalist for Best Male Narration

A Barack Obama Reading List Pick

An Entertainment Weekly Best Books of the Year selection

A Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year selection

A #1 Amazon.com bestseller in African American Literature

A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

An Amazon Best Book of the Month

A BookPage Top Pick for August in Historical Fiction

A July 2019 LibraryReads Pick

A Literary Hub Pick of the Best Reviewed Books This Week

In this bravura follow-up to the aclaimed 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 Jim Crow-era Florida.

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A haunting narrative that reinforces Whitehead’s prowess as a leading voice in American literature.” Time
[The Nickel Boys] should further cement Whitehead as one of his generation's best. Entertainment Weekly 
"Every chapter hits its marks…It is justice.” New York Times
“Again [Whitehead is] wrestling with American history’s reverberations. .the sense of mourning in The Nickel Boys is subvisceral—not detached, but restrained.” O: The Oprah Magazine
“The Nickel Boys is straight-ahead realism, distinguished by its clarity." USA Today
“A writer like Whitehead, who challenges the complacent assumption that we even fathom what happened in our past, has rarely seemed more essential.” New York Times Book Review
“Whitehead reveals the clandestine atrocities of Nickel Academy with just enough restraint to keep us in a state of wincing dread.” Washington Post
“Whitehead tells a story of American history that won’t allow you to see the country in the same way again.” Toronto Star
“A masterpiece squared, rooted in history and American mythology…a great American novel.” NPR
“Devastating and powerful.” Nylon
Magnificent…Whitehead’s prose is meticulous; he nimbly shifts between the 1960s and present day, creating a fully fleshed-out picture of violence and (in)justice. Buzzfeed
A powerful meditation on suffering and injustice. . . . His subject could not be more demanding, but Whitehead's writing is spare and stately. He handles Elwood's and Turner's suffering—and questions—gently. And he holds the reader carefully. . . . For the darkest of tales, that is the most a writer can do. Winnipeg Free Press
Whitehead's signature knack for creating unforgettable characters and spinning compelling stories out of even the darkest places is on display once again—and while it's not always an easy story to read, we'd venture to say it's essential. Town and Country
If you thought Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad was a tour de force, wait until you get your hands on The Nickel Boys. Harper’s Bazaar
The Nickel Boys is a strictly realist work, albeit still ripe with Whitehead's signature deadpan wit. . . . The heart of The Nickel Boys is this extended dialogue between Elwood and Turner . . . [and] often feels like Whitehead’s conversation with both the idealistic forerunners of the civil rights generation and, by implication, the woke youth of today. Like perhaps his single greatest influence, Ralph Ellison, Whitehead negotiates a tightrope walk between the need to depict the experience of race and racism and a stubborn individualistic resistance to the claims of collective identity. Slate
[Whitehead's] prose here is elegant yet straightforward . . . these short sentences spur the action on, creating a pace that's almost as breath-taking as the novel's depiction of cruelty. . . . Whitehead's novel is certainly revelatory, but more for the ways in which it traces these atrocities to the past and present, weaving tragedy into multiple lifetimes. The Nickel Boys isn't just a testament to systemic racism; it’s an archaeology of pain. A.V. Club
[The Nickel Boys is] a marvellous play between the real situation and a novelistic artifice—one which, in the end, proves to be inherent in the human story. . . . This is a heartbreakingly good novel. Its excellence doesn't lie in the attitude it takes to a social problem. . . . Rather, this is a book which should last because of the elegant refinement of its treatment, and the harmonious and deeply affecting balance it strikes between real-life conditions, and the requirements of the finest and most penetrating art. The Spectator
“Stellar…heartbreaking…a beautiful, unforgettable young hero who walks right off the page and into your heart.” Newsday
“In an unvarnished performance, JD Jackson captures the inevitable aftermath of America’s buried legacy of racism and violence…Jackson’s deep, gravelly voice remains steady while navigating the often harsh narrative. However, when Elwood reflects on the words of Dr. King, Jackson transforms his voice to reflect their echoing impact and the stark contrast to the reality at hand. ” AudioFile
“Whitehead’s brilliant examination of America’s history of violence is a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Whitehead’s magnetic characters exemplify stoicism and courage, and each supremely crafted scene smolders and flares with injustice and resistance, building to a staggering revelation.” Booklist (starred review)
“Whitehead’s novel displays its author’s facility with violent imagery and his skill at weaving narrative strands into an ingenious, if disquieting whole.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Colson Whitehead

Author Bio: Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is the author of nine books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Underground Railroad, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He is a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD
Category: Fiction/Historical
Runtime: 6.77
Audience: Adult
Language: English