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The Underground Railroad (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Hardcover – August 2, 2016
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2016 Book Awards
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WINNER OF THE 2016 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTELLER
ONE OF NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S TEN BEST BOOKS OF 2016
“Get it, then get another copy for someone you know because you are definitely going to want to talk about it once you read that heart-stopping last page.”
--Oprah Winfrey (Oprah's Book Club 2016 Selection)
“[A] potent, almost hallucinatory novel... It possesses the chilling matter-of-fact power of the slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, with echoes of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and brush strokes borrowed from Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka and Jonathan Swift…He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present.”
--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Think Toni Morrison (Beloved), Alex Haley (Roots); think 12 Years a Slave…An electrifying novel…a great adventure tale, teeming with memorable characters…Tense, graphic, uplifting and informed, this is a story to share and remember.”
--People, (Book of the Week)
"With this novel, Colson Whitehead proves that he belongs on any short list of America's greatest authors--his talent and range are beyond impressive and impossible to ignore. The Underground Railroad is an American masterpiece, as much a searing document of a cruel history as a uniquely brilliant work of fiction."
--Michael Schaub, NPR
“Far and away the most anticipated literary novel of the year, The Underground Railroad marks a new triumph for Whitehead…[A] book that resonates with deep emotional timbre. The Underground Railroad reanimates the slave narrative, disrupts our settled sense of the past and stretches the ligaments of history right into our own era...The canon of essential novels about America's peculiar institution just grew by one.”
--Ron Charles, Washington Post
About the Author
Colson Whitehead is the New York Times bestselling author of 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 finalist and a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.
Top Customer Reviews
Bearing children, only to see them torn from you to satisfy your master's debts. I am sure that these atrocities were part of my education, but this novel brings them more to the forefront than any textbook ever did. Even my college textbooks were circumspect in their description of man's inhumanity to man. For example, I did not know that all abolitionists were not involver in the underground railroad for purely altruistic reasons. Some actually used the newly "freed" slaved for medical research, delivering them from one sort of subhuman bondage to another. This book is a real Eye-opener for anyone educated in the public school system . Our textbooks did NOT tell the whole story. This novel gives a glimpse into the hardships and injustices we really never grasped in our American History class. An easy, if unsettling, read for this white girl!
While it is easy to jump to conclusions and label her as someone shorn of love and affection for Cora, reading about the immense difficulties faced by the slaves on the plantation tempered one’s judgemental attitude. It was beyond brutal – the ugly face of inhumanity laid bare. The slaves are subjected to all kinds of cruel and inhumane treatment – they are whipped, thrashed and raped at the slightest pretext and excuse. And in some instances, just for pure enjoyment and amusement. Public execution was reserved as the harshest punishment, but to many living without dignity and honor was far worse than public execution.
The arrival of a new slave, Caesar, brought hope for Cora but it was a daunting one. Author Colson Whitehead masterfully narrated their story and painted a horrific picture of slavery during the period. The character of Cora was well fleshed, and would be hard to forget. The story was well conceived and the secondary characters, especially Caesar, helped to make a solid read. All in all, this is a compelling book which will enable many readers to revisit the past though the manner in which Cora escaped was a bit farfetched. But The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a book that will haunt many readers for a long time to come.
Even with all the hype and Oprah's seal of approval I wasn't a fan of this book. There was a lot of good description of the era, some emotional scenes of abuse which are vividly detailed and many diverse characters but it lacked a complexity to the plot and an emotional connection to the characters. Cora, and especially Caesar, felt underdeveloped with their inner feelings muffled to the reader. I also found the flow of the plot to be choppy as readers are repeatedly taken from the main plot into subplots and there were vast sections, mainly towards the end, where the plot would lag and my interest faltered.
But my biggest beef has to be the author's fictionalized idea of the Underground Railroad. He described it as an actual subterranean railroad which brought slaves to freedom. I realize that his concept of the real Underground Railroad was stated on the cover and that it's a historical FICTION read. But this subway of sorts is too far fetched and I feel that the author took too many liberties moving the book into the historical fantasy genre. My first issue is that it confuses people who already know about the Underground Railroad (I had to reread several sections when it was first introduced because I thought I had misunderstood his intent).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It started out great but faded to me. I wanted to love this book, but instead I felt obligated to finish.Published 35 minutes ago by BParrino
Magical metaphors! Puts the reader right in the head of a slave and shows her growing enlightenment. And discouragement.Published 35 minutes ago by Mary Anne Helveston
A compelling, wrenching, and ultimately necessary piece of fiction.Published 43 minutes ago by Randy Jackson
Interesting take on the underground railroad, but i couldn't get into his writing style.Published 52 minutes ago by Ann J.
On one level it was a fascinating book providing more insight into the atrocities of slavery and the functioning of the underground railroad. However it was very politicised. Read morePublished 1 hour ago by Rebar
This book begins on a southern plantation. At first it was so bleak I set it aside for a time. Then I returned to it, and couldn't stop put it down. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by Anne-Marie