Whitehead and Caro Winners at National Book Awards

Colson Whitehead and his award-winning novel Madeline Whitehead

Beating out a list of 10 nominees and four other finalists, Colson Whitehead, who has had a long association with Sag Harbor since his youth, won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday night.

Mr. Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” is a historical novel that uses fantasy to answer the question, what if the Underground Railroad were an actual train? A teenage runaway slave travels on it, and finds that each state in the South is “an alternate America” filled with its own surreal and actual peril.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Whitehead touched on the recent presidential election and asked those in attendance to “be kind to everybody, make art, and fight the power.”

The awards are given out annually by the National Book Foundation, which uses an independent panel of writers to make the determinations.

Robert Caro, who is a part-time resident of East Hampton, was also given an award for distinguished contribution to American letters for his body of work, which includes biographies of Lyndon Johnson and Robert Moses.