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The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

5 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

WINNER OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD 2017 WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER 2016

AMAZON.COM #1 BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR

'Whitehead is on a roll: the reviews have been sublime' Guardian

'Luminous, furious, wildly inventive' Observer

'Hands down one of the best, if not the best, book I've read this year' Stylist

'Dazzling' New York Review of Books


Praised by Barack Obama and an Oprah Book Club Pick, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award 2016 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017.

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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Praise for The Underground Railroad

  • In powerful, precise prose, at once spellbinding and ferocious, the book follows Cora's incredible journey north, step by step . . . the story is literature at its finest and history at its most barbaric. Would that this novel were required reading for every American citizen - Publishers Weekly

  • Startlingly original . . . Whitehead continues the African-AMerican artists' inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing authority and razor-sharp ingenuity; he is now assuredly a writer of the first rank - Kirkus

  • Reaches the marrow of your bones, settles in and stays forever . . . a tour de force

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Reader reviews (2)

  • The best book I've read this year, and still with me several months later. The story of slave Cora through the horrors of antebellum southern America is moving, terrifying and appalling.

    Cate Lloyd

    Rated 5
  • Amazing

    Andrew Cattanach

    Rated 5
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Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. A Pulitzer Prize winner and a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.