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The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club):

A Novel

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A #1 New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the 2017 Carnegie Medal for Literature

Winner of a 2016 National Book Award

A New York Times Editor’s Choice

A 2016 Oprah’s Book Club Selection

A BookPage Top Pick for September 2016

From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s 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. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates 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 a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Editorial Reviews

WINNER OF THE 2016 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD  #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTELLER, NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST and CARNEGIE MEDAL FINALIST
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTELLER and NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTELLER
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTELLERThink Toni Morrison (Beloved), Alex Haley (Roots); think 12 Years a Slave…An electrifying novel…a great adventure tale, teeming with memorable characters…Tense, graphic, uplifting and informed, this is a story to share and remember.People, (Book of the Week)ONE OF NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S TEN BEST BOOKS OF 2016
Get it, then get another copy for someone you know because you are definitely going to want to talk about it once you read that heart-stopping last page.Oprah Winfrey (Oprah's Book Club 2016 Selection)#1 New York Times Bestseller

“An electrifying novel…a great adventure tale, teeming with memorable characters…Tense, graphic, uplifting and informed, this is a story to share and remember.“

People
[A] potent, almost hallucinatory novel... It possesses the chilling matter-of-fact power of the slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, with echoes of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and brush strokes borrowed from Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka and Jonathan Swift…He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present.Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
With this novel, Colson Whitehead proves that he belongs on any short list of America's greatest authors--his talent and range are beyond impressive and impossible to ignore. The Underground Railroad is an American masterpiece, as much a searing document of a cruel history as a uniquely brilliant work of fiction.Michael Schaub, NPR

“Far and away the most anticipated literary novel of the year…[A] book that resonates with deep emotional timbre. The Underground Railroad reanimates the slave narrative, disrupts our settled sense of the past and stretches the ligaments of history right into our own era…The canon of essential novels about America’s peculiar institution just grew by one.”

Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Kept me up at night, had my heart in my throat, almost afraid to turn the next page. Get it, then get another copy for someone you know because you are definitely going to want to talk about it once you read that heart-stopping last page.”

Oprah Winfrey

Kept me up at night, had my heart in my throat, almost afraid to turn the next page. Get it, then get another copy for someone you know because you are definitely going to want to talk about it once you read that heart-stopping last page.Oprah Winfrey (Oprah's Book Club 2016 Selection)

"[A] skillful blend of adventure and harrowing historical reflection.”

BookPage

Author Biography

Colson Whitehead is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and recipient of a Whiting Award and a MacArthur Fellowship.

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Reader Biography

Bahni Turpin has won seventeen AudioFile Earphones Awards and three prestigious Audie Awards for her audiobook narrations, and Publishers Weekly magazine named her Narrator of the Year for 2016. She is an ensemble member of the Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles. She has guest starred in many television series, including NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Six Feet Under, Cold Case, What about Brian, and The Comeback. Film credits include Brokedown Palace, Crossroads, and Daughters of the Dust. She is also a member of the recording cast of The Help, which won numerous awards.

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