Instant Classics Book Club: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The latest City Lit book club is dedicated to recent novels that are on their way to achieving classic status.
This month's pick is Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, which was named one of the best books of 2016 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, HuffPost, Esquire, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood--where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him. In Colson Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.
As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage--and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.
In recounting Cora’s story, Mr. Whitehead communicates the horrors of slavery and its toxic legacy rumbling on down the years. At the same time, he memorializes the yearning for freedom that spurs one generation after another to persevere in the search for justice — despite threats and intimidation, despite reversals and efforts to turn back the clock. He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present.
--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, as well as The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and The Colossus of New York. He is also a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. He lives in New York City.
Interested in participating in March's discussion? There's no sign-up necessary, and all book club purchases receive 10% off in store!
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