The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This harrowing, imaginative novel of a part of America’s darker history is both powerful and exhilarating. We follow Cora, a young slave in Georgia, pre-Civil War. Life is full of despair and hopelessness until Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia encourages her to flee with him along the Underground Railroad. Colson’s clever introduction of the ‘Railway’ as an actual tunnel of tracks, run by conductors, criss-crossing America and heading north to freedom, is fanciful and imaginative – and it works!
Cora’s journey is fraught with danger as she is doggedly pursued by slave-catcher Ridgeway.
There are so many reflections throughout this novel – America and its ongoing race divide; a mighty nation built on the almost complete genocide of one race of people, the indigenous Native American, and the crushing cruelty of slavery perpetrated against another.
This is a compelling, wonderful, haunting read and the deserved winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Read it….weep and rejoice this fabulous slave fiction and it’s tireless message.