National Book Award Winner 2016
Amazon.Com Number One Book of the Year 2016
Number One New York Times Best Seller
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 boxcar 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. 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.
©2016 Colson Whitehead (P)2016 Little Brown Book Group
"Whitehead is on a roll: the reviews have been sublime." (The Guardian)
"Luminous, furious, wildly inventive." (The Observer)
"Hands down one of the best, if not the best, book I've read this year." (Stylist)
"Dazzling." (New York Review of Books)
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
"A great listen"
Great introduction to a fascinating subject.
Hope there is a follow up to Coras life.
"Humanity at its worst; humanity at its best"
Story, tho based on history, excellently good. Appalling yet uplifting.
Reader excellent; her manner and "voices" hit the spot, throughout.
"Powerful, epic, a real look into inhumanity"
Listening to this is obviously a struggle, the content of slavery is not something that can be trivialised so be warned.
While Colson Whitehead did not get into much character building, the focus on the underground railroad itself is detailed and descriptive. The protagonist Cora serves as a good barometer in understanding the level of horror that many African Americans faced hence the writer does not seem to concentrate on creating emotive backgrounds for each character.
Nevertheless, the terrifying incidents leave the listener empathising with the characters as it reflects the lack of safety and constant fear they had to face. It is a rollercoaster listen, starting off slow but still horrifying, culminating in more and more terrible situations. The performer is a little stagnant at times probably because it reads more as a factual piece than autobiographical.
A 21st century tribute to the generations who have suffered.
"Gritty and Bleak"
great performance and a great story, but its not a light listen! the main character Cora is likeable and you really get drawn in to her story and want her to succeed. there are twists and turns in the story but the gritty realism keeps you grounded.
"Disappointingly & underwhelming slave tale"
I wanted to love this but I couldn't. The premise of the story is set in the southern US slave states and the life of Cora who runs away from slavery. I enjoyed some of the plantation descriptions which detail her life and little touches like her trying to keep a small patch of land to grow vegetables. But overall I felt her character didn't really grow and develop. It was a slow, boring listen once she had run and, at times, I didn't understand what was happening. It definitely has potential with some well written passages and a subtlety that hints at some of the worse aspects -like how doctors see the women to stop them reproducing, but it just lacks forward movement. I don't want lots of action and adventure but this was lots of the same thing over and over. Sadly I can't recommend.
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