The Underground Railroad. Colson Whitehead.

The Underground Railroad

Staff pick
The Venn Diagram of “A Cappella’s 30” and “Oprah’s Book Club Picks” doesn’t have much overlap. Where it does is a sure sign of a major literary feat. Prior to this, his sixth novel, Whitehead was relatively unknown outside a small circle of passionate fans. His books are hard to pigeonhole and blend grand artistic ambition with a full embrace of the tropes of genre. Whitehead’s inspired idea of making the Underground Railroad a literal underground railroad—and letting that serve as a vehicle to examine slavery—accomplished at least two critical things. First, it pulled readers down into the depths of the human chattel trade like few books ever had. Second, it made its author, accustomed to book signings where maybe a dozen nerdy book collectors might show up, one of the biggest draws we’ve ever had at the Carter Center.

Doubleday, August 2016. Hardcover. New / New. Item #184816
ISBN: 0385542364

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood--where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned--Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor--engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver's Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey--hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates 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 a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Signed by Whitehead on a page specially bound in by the publisher. Later printing.

New Book

Price: $26.95

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