The Underground Railroad

Front Cover
Little, Brown Book Group Limited, Aug 9, 2016 - Fugitive slaves - 320 pages
3 Reviews
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead's razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

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About the author (2016)

Colson Whitehead was born on November 6, 1969. He graduated from Harvard College and worked at the Village Voice writing reviews of television, books, and music. His first novel, The Intuitionist, won the Quality Paperback Book Club's New Voices Award. His other books include The Colossus of New York, Sag Harbor, and Zone One. He won the Young Lions Fiction Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for John Henry Days, the PEN/Oakland Award for Apex Hides the Hurt, and the National Book Award for fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Underground Railroad. His reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper's and Granta. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

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