Ross & Marianna Beach Author Series

Newly announced: Colson Whitehead 2020

Once a year, Lawrence Public Library invites a nationally-recognized author to town for a community conversation about why they write and what inspires them, followed by an author book signing and meet-n-greet.

In 2020, we are coordinating with the inaugural Paper Plains Literary Festival with Colson Whitehead headlining the four-day event.

The Beach Author series brings together readers, writers, townies, book clubs, hardcore fans, university faculty, and students for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet a contemporary virtuoso of the written word.

The event is free, casual, and open to the public. Seating is general admission and no tickets are required.

Thank you to Ross and Marianna Beach, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Commons at KU, and the Hall Center for the Humanities for their generous library support.

About Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead was born in 1969, and was raised in Manhattan. After graduating from Harvard College, he started working at the Village Voice, where he wrote reviews of television, books, and music.

His first novel, The Intuitionist, concerned intrigue in the Department of Elevator Inspectors, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and a winner of the Quality Paperback Book Club's New Voices Award.

John Henry Days followed in 2001, an investigation of the steel-driving man of American folklore. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. The novel received the Young Lions Fiction Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

The Colossus of New York is a book of essays about the city. It was published in 2003 and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Apex Hides the Hurt (2006) is a novel about a "nomenclature consultant" who gets an assignment to name a town, and was a recipient of the PEN/Oakland Award.

Sag Harbor, published in 2009, is a novel about teenagers hanging out in Sag Harbor, Long Island during the summer of 1985. It was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Zone One (2011), about post-apocalyptic New York City, was a New York Times Bestseller.

The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky & Death, a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker, appreared in 2014.

The Underground Railroad, a novel, was published in the summer of 2016. It won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

His latest novel The Nickel Boys is nominated for the 2019 National Book Award.

Colson Whitehead's reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in a number of publications, such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper's and Granta. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, A Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

He has taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, New York University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, and been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.


Beach Family's Library Support

In 2010, The Ross and Marianna Beach Foundation contributed the largest gift to Lawrence Public Library in its history to launch the New Stories capital campaign for the library building project. In 2013, they provided a second generous gift to create the Ross and Marianna Beach Author Series. We are forever grateful for their support in achieving the library's mission and goals for our community.

Beach Author History

2018 | Nnedi Okorafor, 2016 Nebula and Hugo Award winner
2017 | George Saunders, 2017 Man Booker Prize winner for Lincoln in the Bardo
2016 | Geraldine Brooks, 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for March
2015 | Karen Russell, 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Swamplandia! and 2013 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant
2014 | James McBride, 2013 National Book Award winner for The Good Lord Bird



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