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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,3832322,253 (4.06)450
  1. 50
    Beloved by Toni Morrison (shaunie)
    shaunie: Morrison's masterpiece is a clear influence on Whitehead's book, and his is one of the very few I've read which bears comparison with it. In fact I'd go so far as to say it's also a masterpiece, a stunningly good read!
  2. 20
    Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (elenchus)
    elenchus: That popular culture phenomenon of the uncanny twins, two works appearing together yet unrelated in authorship, production, inspiration. Why do they appear together? In this case, each is compelling enough to read based on their own, but for me irresistable now they've shown up onstage at the same time. Ben Winters's Underground Airlines a bizarro underground railroad, updated (for reasons left implicit) for air travel; Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad making the escape trail a concrete reality. Each also addresses our world, in between stations.… (more)
  3. 00
    The Known World by Edward P. Jones (lottpoet)

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» See also 450 mentions

English (220)  Spanish (4)  German (3)  Piratical (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (232)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
I am right down the middle with The Underground Railroad. On one hand, it is a brilliant work that drives the devastation of slavery into your very marrow. On the other hand, it is the most inconsistent slosh that makes no sense.
Everything was humming along beautifully. We had a heart wrenching story of this girl who is living a life of terror, and getting a good sense of what that life is like for her, and then she takes off on the "underground railroad". Literally. Choo, choo, chugga, chugga. Now I know this author knows that there wasn't an elaborate train system running beneath ground, but for some reason he chose to interject this dose of magical realism...and then there are a few other oddities such as this that I was apparently too dense to see what it was really all about.
Now, there were more times of reality than not, and the reality is ugly, torturous, and a real awakening, or reawakening, for all of us, concerning both the slaves and the abolitionists. It is just unfortunate that it was the last half of the book where I struggled with the mixture of magical realism, and inconsistent behavior by characters. For example, the ruthless slave hunter who randomly buys a dress for one of his captives, and takes her out to dinner with no motive whatsoever, and no change of heart. Just randomly.
I don't know what else to say here, except to reiterate my level of confusion over whether to tell everyone I know to read this for the exemplary parts of the story that translate reality to the reader, or to tell no one because of the portions that were completely disconnected from reality. ( )
1 vote StephLaymon | Aug 12, 2018 |
Disturbing, harsh, difficult and brilliant! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Cora is a slave on a plantation in Georgia who, like other slaves, has heard rumors of a fantastical Underground Railroad which could deliver her to freedom. But unlike our world, this is a real wood and iron rain running on real tracks in real tunnels underneath the USA. Cora escapes her plantation and travels on the Railroad to various other places in an effort to find freedom and evade the cruel slavecatchers that are hot on her trail.

The book reads almost like science fiction without actually having any science fiction in it. The railroad acts as a kind of TARDIS or Stargate, transporting Cora between disparate dystopias known only as "South Carolina" or "Indiana" (though none of them are actually out of the range of terrible things that have been done to African-Americans through history). Even the ending is left very ambiguous, in classic sci-fi fashion. I found the story style fascinating and even though this book didn't blow me away like I was expecting it would, I can't wait to read more by this author. ( )
  norabelle414 | Jul 31, 2018 |
I feel a little like I was subject to a bait and switch scam. Everything I read about the book mentioned how the underground railroad was envisioned here as an actual train system run through tunnels deep under southern soil. And that is true, but that conceit really doesn't impact the story very much as near as I can tell. The story structure of [b:Gulliver's Travels|7733|Gulliver's Travels|Jonathan Swift|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1427829692s/7733.jpg|2394716] had a larger impact on the book than any of the trains.

All the bells and whistles and the fantastical re-imagining of history just detracts from the story's verisimilitude and emotional impact. And I worry about uninformed readers who may come away from this book thinking some of the made-up elements are real or that parts based on fact may be fantasy. ( )
  villemezbrown | Jul 28, 2018 |
I was disappointed in the book. The story didn't flow. Most of the characters are one dimensional and I just wasn't that interested in them. Maybe the author did this deliberately, but it just didn't work for me. The story definitely describes some of the horrors of slavery. ( )
1 vote melanieklo | Jul 25, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
Der Roman des afroamerikanischen Autors Colson Whitehead über die Sklaverei in den USA des 19. Jahrhunderts kommt in deutscher Übersetzung nun gerade recht, um auf den heutigen Rassismus zu verweisen.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Colson Whiteheadprimary authorall editionscalculated
Testa, MartinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turpin, BahniNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first time Caesar approached Cora about running north, she said no.
. . . for justice may be slow and invisible, but it always renders its true verdict in the end.
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Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Their 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.… (more)

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