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The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

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The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

NOW A MAJOR TV SERIES BY BARRY JENKINS (COMING MAY 2021). WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017. WINNER OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD 2017.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead's razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants.

And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates 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.

'Whitehead is on a roll: the reviews have been sublime'  Guardian

'Luminous, furious, wildly inventive'  Observer

'Hands down one of the best, if not the best, book I've read this year' Stylist

'Dazzling'  New York Review of Books

Praised by Barack Obama and an Oprah Book Club Pick

Additional Information

Author Colson Whitehead
Publisher Little Brown
Publication date 29 Apr 2021
Format Paperback
ISBN/EAN 9780349726809

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