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From prize-winning, bestselling author 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."
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It has invaded both my sleeping and waking thoughts . . . Each character feels alive with a singular humanity . . . Whitehead is on a roll, the reviews have been sublime (Bim Adewunmi Guardian)
An engrossing and harrowing novel (Sunday Times)
[A] brutal, vital, devastating novel...This is a luminous, furious, wildly inventive tale that not only shines a bright light on one of the darkest periods of history, but also opens up thrilling new vistas for the form of the novel itself (Alex Preston Observer)
This thrilling tale of escape from a deep south plantation takes in terror, beauty and the history of human tragedy..This uncanny novel never attempts to deliver a message - instead it tells one of the most compelling stories I have ever read. Cora's strong, graceful hands touch on the greatest tragedies of our history (Cynthia Bond, Guardian)
It's so good it's hard to praise it without whipping out the cliches: it's an elegant, devastating powerhouse of a book, following a young black woman all over America as she tries to escape the horrors of slavery. When it was published with Oprah's imprimatur, in August, it was universally acclaimed. It deserved it (Michelle Dean Guardian)
One of the best, if not the best, book I've read this year . . . Whitehead never exploits his subject matter, and in fact it's the sparseness of the novel that makes it such a punch in the gut (Sarah Shaffi Stylist)
My book of the year by some distance...It's a profound and important novel, but more than anything it's an absurdly good read, gripping you in its tightly wound plot, astonishing you with its leaps of imagination. If Whitehead doesn't win every prize going next year, I'll appear on Saturday Review in my underpants (Alex Preston Observer, Best Fiction of 2016)
Whitehead is a superb storyteller . . . [he] brilliantly intertwines his allegory with history . . . writing at the peak of his game . . . Whitehead's achievement is truly remarkable: by giving the Underground Railroad a new mythology, he has found a way of confronting other myths, older and persistent, about the United States. His book cannot have enough readers (Telegraph)
It is an extraordinary novel, a rich, confident work that will deservedly win - on the basis of literary merit as well as moral purpose . . . History and human experience as well as an artist's obligation to tell the truth have shaped a virtuoso novel that should be read by every American as well as readers across the world. And it will be, it should be (Eileen Battersby Irish Times)
An utterly transporting piece of storytelling (Alex Heminsley The Pool)
From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent, wrenching, thrilling tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South
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