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The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Kindle Edition
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Punch Me Up to the Gods" by Brian Broome
"One of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you— have ever read." —Augusten Burroughs Learn more
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— Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine
"Whitehead, whose eclectic body of work encompasses novels playing fast and loose with 'real life,' both past and present, fires his most daring change-up yet. . . . Imagine a runaway slave novel written with Joseph Heller's deadpan voice leasing both Frederick Douglass' grim realities and H.P. Lovecraft's rococo fantasies…and that's when you begin to understand how startlingly original this book is. Whitehead continues the African-American artists' inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing audacity and razor-sharp ingenuity; he is now assuredly a writer of the first rank."
--Kirkus (starred review)
"[A] magnetizing and wrenching saga. . . . Hard-driving, laser-sharp, artistically superlative, and deeply compassionate, Whitehead’s unforgettable odyssey adds a clarion new facet to the literature of racial tyranny and liberation."
--Booklist (starred review)
"[S]pellbinding and ferocious.... 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 (starred review) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B01A4ATV0A
- Publisher : Anchor (August 2, 2016)
- Publication date : August 2, 2016
- Language : English
- File size : 4256 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 300 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,006 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Incomplete sentences abound. Paragraphs introduced by pronouns." "The sounds that came from his body made the labor fly." WHAT? Sounds made labor "fly?" I have several pages of examples of Whitehead's poor writing. "Cora looked at him. Burr-headed and red-eyed." Who was burr-headed and red-eyed? (I know, and so do you, but it is not clear, clean writing.) "In those days he patrolled with a black umbrella but eventually surrendered and now his white blouses were stark against his tanned flesh." (Surrendered his umbrella? Which had obscured his white blouses?) I am astonished that this won the Pulitzer. It's an insult to writers who strive to craft a well-written piece of work. Two thumbs and all fingers down on this one.
Top reviews from other countries
Whilst the novel does have literary pretensions, the story ultimately becomes an edge-of-the seat page turning thriller. I can understand why some reviewers found the initial chapters difficult but the book evolves into something that is hugely descriptive and with a sense of danger and menace which permeates the novel like nothing else I have ever read. Whilst the whole concept of an actual underground railway is an elaborate twist on the name given to a network dedicated to rescuing escaped slaves, there is a lot of historical research which has gone in to this book as well as references to later incidents such as the notorious Tuskegee Experiment.
The book is often uncomfortable and there is an underlying and understandable resentment of the racist nature of America and the battles it's black population had to overcome to assert themselves. This is a novel that does not withhold it's punches yet offers up a mirror to American society today. I would have to say that the novel is like a tapestry where the various elements eventually coalesce and you are taken on a journey which is often fascinating, repellent and rewarding depending upon which chapter you are reading. The villains in the piece are repugnant and menacing. Ridgeway is one of the most believable villains I have encountered in a book. Not all the white characters are bad and it is nice to see that things are so nuanced. The detestable Homer is scary because his motives are never really explained. Not sure why a macabre black boy should work for a slave catcher.
I am usually quite negative about American literature. In the past I have been disappointed by writers such as Scot F Fitzgerald who are deemed to represent the "American experience." As a rule, I avoid American writers due to these feelings. Having said this, I would have to say that this book represents exactly how I feel about America. The white characters are especially well drawn in this novel and this appertains to both the liberal characters and racists described within this book. Even those who appear to have good intentions transpire to be misguided.
At the end of the day, what sells this book for me is the fact that you want to talk about it and tell everyone how good it is after you have finished it. It really sticks in your mind, If it has a flaw, it is that there is a sense of foreboding throughout the book which makes you rush through the pages. This means that you sometimes miss the beauty in the language. Deemed a "science fiction " novel, this is somewhat of a miscasting as I feel this is a book that everyone needs to read. This would make a terrific film but I would urge anyone who loves books to pick this novel up and give it a try before it hits the big screen. Thoroughly recommended.
The narrative of Cora's escape across five states becomes a sombre and nuanced exploration of the toxic effect of slavery, especially plantation slavery, on the whole of American society, with figures like Martin and Homer serving to illustrate the diversity of human responses to the enveloping nightmare.
I had a mixed reaction to the magic realism of the railroad and to a lesser extent the South Carolina sequence. It was daring on Whitehead's part, because he ran the risk of destroying his book's credibility. I can understand why some readers abandoned the novel at that point. But on balance I thought it worked, adding an invigorating extra dimension.
The only flaw was the rather muted ending, which lacked the self confidence and panache of the rest of the novel.
The writing is lyrical and poetic and crafted with care and a real sense of artistry. The story is utterly compelling and takes a real grip early on and never lets it's tightness ease. The characters are crafted with care and loving attention and their stories draw massive emotional responses. It's hard to fathom the evil and totality of the Slavery Experience, it's savagery and ruthlessness and the way it pock marked itself so deeply into the culture of The South-and beyond. It's impact reasonates today causing a torrent of complex problems & challenges for modern day America.
This is a bleak read but it also inspires as the central characters try to retain their dignity and Hope in a period of unrelenting primeval savagery.
The pace of the book is fierce and you root for the Slaves. There are one or two moments of exhilaration amidst the despair and murderous culture.
Parts of the book ride a rocky road in trying to stretch the debate between the protagonists and for me the weakest section is in the interchange between the Slave Catcher ,Ridgeway, and Cara. That part just doesn't work.
But it's a rare moment in an otherwise superlative read. This is a simply magnificent book which is beautifully written, imaginatively constructed and powerfully realised.
Highly recommended and one of my Books of the Decade.
Slavery was and is totally awful and it is a story of cruelty for economic gain and the result of seeing people as less than human - this being the basis of appalling racism. There were a few episodes that capture the horror and brutality of it and I fearful of being seen as someone who trivialises it but in a strange way the book does that.
Cora just like Dick Barton was save at the last moment when somehow a saviour or saviours turned up. This made it certain that she would ride off into the sunset. Those who died brutal deaths and who remain as a scar on the people who used slavery so casually got lost in this book.
And, it really was a heartfelt story which deals with a very important subject. As you may know, the Underground Railroad was set up by abolitionists to bring slaves to the free states via a secret network of safe houses and transportation. Whitehead plays around with the traditional notion of the railroad, creating a quite literal “Underground Railroad” with secret stations and train drivers which was a really clever addition.
The novel is set during the 1800’s and begins on a slave plantation in Georgia. It follows Cora and Caesar who seek to escape using Whitehead’s version of the Railroad to gain their freedom.
Needless to say, their bid for freedom is epic and is something that you can’t help but live with Cora, it really sucked me in! On her journey, she is hunted by slave catchers seeking the bounty set out by her “owner.” There is one notorious Catcher called Ridgeway who makes it his mission not to let Cora have her freedom.
Does he succeed? You’ll have to read it to find out I’m afraid…
That said, this novel really highlighted the people across America willing to risk their own lives to help the slaves obtain freedom.
It really is a real page-turner from start to finish and covers themes of self-discovery, family, identity, and the huge divide between two halves of America. A story with lots of ups and downs and twists and turns as Cora attempts to see the “Real America” via the Underground Railroad.
My only suggestion is to lose the one-word quote from Barack Obama on the cover, it really doesn’t need it.