The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead. Doubleday, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-54236-4
"Each thing had a value... In America the quirk was that people were things." So observes Ajarry, taken from Africa as a girl in the mid-18th century to be sold and resold and sold again. She finally arrives at the vicious Georgia plantation where she dies at the book’s outset. After a lifetime in brutal, humiliating transit, Ajarry was determined to stay put in Georgia, and so is her granddaughter, Cora. That changes when Cora is raped and beaten by the plantation’s owner, and she resolves to escape. In powerful, precise prose, at once spellbinding and ferocious, the book follows Cora’s incredible journey north, step by step. In Whitehead’s rendering, the Underground Railroad of the early 19th century is a literal subterranean tunnel with tracks, trains, and conductors, ferrying runaways into darkness and, occasionally, into light. Interspersed throughout the central narrative of Cora’s flight are short chapters expanding on some of the lives of those she encounters. These include brief portraits of the slave catcher who hunts her, a doctor who examines her in South Carolina, and her mother, whose escape from the plantation when Cora was a girl has both haunted and galvanized her. Throughout the book, Cora faces unthinkable horrors, and her survival depends entirely on her resilience. The story is literature at its finest and history at its most barbaric. Would that this novel were required reading for every American citizen. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Sept.)

This review has been corrected to reflect the new ISBN for the book.

Reviewed on: 04/11/2016
Release date: 08/01/2016
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-3627-9
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-5247-3630-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7352-8557-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-7352-8559-0
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-385-53703-2
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-5247-3463-3
Open Ebook - 978-0-385-53704-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-3625-5
Show other formats
FORMATS
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X