For two years after leaving college, Whitehead wrote for The Village Voice. While working at the Voice, he began drafting his first novels.
Whitehead has since produced five widely acclaimed book-length works...four novels and a meditation on life in Manhattan in the style of E.B. White's famous essay Here Is New York. The books are 1999's The Intuitionist, 2001's John Henry Days, 2003's The Colossus of New York, 2006's Apex Hides the Hurt, and 2009's Sag Harbor. Esquire Magazine named The Intuitionist the best first novel of the year, and GQ called it one of the "novels of the millennium." Novelist John Updike, reviewing The Intuitionist in The New Yorker, called Whitehead "ambitious," "scintillating," and "strikingly original," adding, "The young African-American writer to watch may well be a thirty-one-year-old Harvard graduate with the vivid name of Colson Whitehead."
Whitehead's The Intuitionist was nominated as the Common Novel at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a prestigious recognition of Whitehead's literary talents. The Common Novel nomination was part of a long-time tradition at the Institute that included authors like Maya Angelou, Andre Dubus III, William Joseph Kennedy, and Anthony Swofford. Whitehead's visit to Rochester included meeting author/editor, Rebecca Housel, a former professor at RIT.
Whitehead's non-fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Salon and The Village Voice.