The 50-year-old writer was awarded the prestigious prize for his 2019 novel, The Nickel Boys, which was named one of TIME magazine’s best books of the previous decade.
Set in the 1960s, the novel tells the story of the black teenage boys who were violentally abused at juvenile reform schools in Florida.
The judges described The Nickel Boys as a “spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption.”
Whitehead is only the fourth author to win the top fiction prize twice. He also won it just two years ago in 2017 for The Underground Railroad, which followed former slaves attempting to escape the American south in the 19th century using a secret network of safe houses and trains.
The 2020 Pulitzer Prize ceremony was delayed due to coronavirus lockdown, with the awards eventually being announced remotely from administrator Dana Canedy’s living room.