Book Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The list of awards this book has won is astounding!  Major awards such as:

  • Pulitzer Prize
  • National Book Award
  • Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
  • Heartland Prize
  • Arthur C. Clarke Award
  • Hurston-Wright Award, and
  • long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

It has been listed on the “Best Books Of The Year” lists from:

  • The New York Times,
  • The Washington Post, 
  • NPR,
  • The Boston Globe,
  • The Seattle Times,
  • HuffPost,
  • Esquire, and
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune.

It’s really no surprise this #1 New York Times Bestseller is as loved as it is – and I’m ashamed at how long it took me to read it.   This epic adventure is a consuming read.  You get swept up and pulled along with the protagonist, Cora, as she makes her way north.  Mr. Whitehead absolutely makes you care about Cora, and her every victory is your victory, and every defeat is also your defeat.  You cheer her on and pray for her safety.

The characters surrounding Cora are also real to you.  You hate who she hates, and within a story about slavery those feelings can bring you to tears.  This book will stay with you long after it’s back in your shelf.

If you haven’t read this amazing story yet, purchase your copy of The Underground Railroad here.

If you’ve already read The Underground Railroad, Mr. Whitehead’s newest novel, The Nickel Boys, is out now and you can purchase it here.

Back Cover Copy of The Underground Railroad:

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.

About Colson Whitehead:

Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels Zone One; Sag Harbor; The Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award. He has also written a book of essays about his home town, The Colossus of New York, and a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker called The Noble Hustle. A recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.

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