Colson Whitehead Quotes

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All quotes by Colson Whitehead: Books Children Running Slaves Writing more...
  • I'm trying to keep it fresh for me. I'm just trying to not bore myself. And if I can do a detective novel, and if I can do a horror novel, then why do it again? To keep the work challenging I have to keep moving.

  • I like movies. I've written screenplays as a sort of procrastination thing for me. Like I'll work for a couple months on this idea that's been kicking around and then like 30 pages in I'll just go try a novel because it's a lot easier. That's what I know. So why am I killing myself?

  • Isn't it great when you're a kid and the world is full of anonymous things? Everything is bright and mysterious until you know what it is called and then all the light goes out of it...Once we knew the name of it, how could we ever come to love it?...For things had true natures, and they hid behind false names, beneath the skin we gave them.

  • These days I find myself wanting to avoid being pigeon-holed, ghettoized, held in a different category than other authors. And when people ask me if I'm a black writer, or just a writer who happens to be black, I tend to say that it's either a dumb question or a question which happens to be dumb.

  • The only time "early bloomer" has ever been applied to me is vis-a-vis my premature apprehension of the deep dread-of-existence thing. In all other cases, I plod and tromp along. My knuckles? Well dragged.

  • When it comes to how the slaves treat each other: If you've been brutalized all your life - if you have seen your children sold or your mother beaten and raped and you have been tortured yourself - you are not going to be up for your best behaviour. Even in the 21st century, 100 people in the midst of terrible suffering are not going to be their best people.

  • I'm not really up on what's new. I'm still listening to Run DMC twenty-five years later. In the same way that the baby-boomers in America were forcing '60s music and Motown down our throats, now people of my generation are forcing Tears For Fears and old Hip Hop upon others.

  • We never see other people anyway, only the monsters we make of them.

    Colson Whitehead (2011). “Zone One”, p.214, Random House
  • A monster is a person who has stopped pretending.

    "A Psychotronic Childhood" by Colson Whitehead, June 4, 2012.
  • I'd never been much of an athlete, due to a physical condition I'd had since birth (unathleticism). Perhaps if there were a sport centered around lying on your couch in a neurotic stupor all day, I'd take an interest.

    Colson Whitehead (2014). “The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death”, p.41, Anchor
  • Being a slave meant never having the stability of knowing your family would be together as many years as God designed it to be. It meant you could come back from picking cotton in a field to find that your children are gone, your husband's gone, your mother's gone. It meant knowing you are property that could be sold to the highest bidder, of value only to continue to support the plantation economy.

  • In keeping with my family's affection for doomed product lines and hexed formats, we purchased a Betamax. The year before, we'd bought a TRS-80 instead of an Apple II, and in due course we'd unbox Mattel's Intellivision, instead of Atari's legendary gizmo. This was good training for a writer, for the sooner you accept the fact that you are a deluded idiot who is always out of step with reality the better off you will be.

    "A Psychotronic Childhood" by Colson Whitehead, June 4, 2012.
  • Talking about New York is a way of talking about the world.

    Colson Whitehead (2007). “The Colossus of New York”, Anchor
  • There will be no redemption because the men who run this place do not want redemption. They want to be as near to hell as they can.

    Colson Whitehead (2012). “The Intuitionist: A Novel”, p.240, Anchor
  • Colored, Negro, Afro-American, African American. ... Every couple of years someone came up with something that got us an inch closer to the truth. Bit by bit we crept along. As if that thing we believed to be approaching actually existed.

    Colson Whitehead (2007). “Apex Hides the Hurt”, p.192, Anchor
  • His legs remembered the correct position for squatting down with toys. He played. He fit the round male studs into the round female grooves. He got some thinking done as he hunkered down on his fallen-sleep legs.

  • New York City does not hold our former selves against us. Perhaps we can extend the same courtesy.

    Colson Whitehead (2018). “The Colossus of New York”, p.13, Hachette UK
  • It had been a humdrum couple of days, reaffirming his belief in reincarnation: everything was so boring that this could not be the first time he'd experienced it.

    "Zone One". Book by Colson Whitehead, October 6, 2011.
  • Sanctimony and self-regard are as American as smallpox blankets and supersize meals.

    Colson Whitehead (2014). “The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death”, p.69, Anchor
  • Pain could be killed. Sadness could not, but the drugs did shut its mouth for a time.

  • I can't blame modern technology for my predilection for distraction, not after all the hours I've spent watching lost balloons disappear into the clouds. I did it before the Internet, and I'll do it after the apocalypse, assuming we still have helium and weak-gripped children.

  • The thing I love about New York is getting lost but not worrying, just wandering and wandering, knowing that there's always a subway only ten blocks away in any direction. There's always a new neighborhood to discover, a new place to lose your bearings in, and yet however alien it seems you can escape. You can always get a cab. All of life's problems can be solved by hailing a cab.

    Block   Worry   Aliens  
  • As time went on, we learned to arm ourselves in our different ways. Some of us with real guns, some of us with more ephemeral weapons, an idea or improbable plan or some sort of formulation about how best to move through the world. An idea that will let us be. Protect us and keep us safe. But a weapon nonetheless.

  • I think you're only post-racial when you stop asking if you're post-racial. When the Neanderthals finally stopped asking themselves if they were in a post-saber tooth society, that's when they were post-saber tooth.

  • When I was a kid, I'd go to the African-American section in the bookstore, and I'd try and find African-American people I hadn't read before. So in that sense the category was useful to me. But it's not useful to me as I write. I don't sit down to write an African-American zombie story or an African-American story about elevators. I'm writing a story about elevators which happens to talk about race in different ways. Or I'm writing a zombie novel which doesn't have that much to do with being black in America. That novel is really about survival.

  • Early on my career, I figured out that I just have to write the book I have to write at that moment. Whatever else is going on in the culture is just not that important. If you could get the culture to write your book, that would be great. But the culture can't write your book.

  • Best to let the broken glass be broken glass, let it splinter into smaller pieces and dust and scatter. Let the cracks between things widen until they are no longer cracks but the new places for things. That was where they were now. The world wasn't ending: it had ended and now they were in the new place. They could not recognize it because they had never seen it before.

    Colson Whitehead (2011). “Zone One”, p.257, Random House
  • What isn't said is as important as what is said.

    "How to Write" by Colson Whitehead, July 26, 2012.
  • Twenty years ago, when I started writing, I didn't define myself as an African-American writer. And then you write books and you're focused on what's inside your books, and that kind of term is generally used on the outside, by the critical establishment.

  • In other words, fiction is payback for those who have wronged you.

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  • We hope you have found the saying you were looking for in our collection! At the moment, we have collected 63 quotes from the Novelist Colson Whitehead, starting from November 6, 1969! We periodically replenish our collection so that visitors of our website can always find inspirational quotes by authors from all over the world! Come back to us again!
    Colson Whitehead quotes about: Books Children Running Slaves Writing