Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from 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. Now an original Amazon Prime Video series directed by Barry Jenkins.
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.
Look for Colson Whitehead’s best-selling new novel, Harlem Shuffle!
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
You may want to clear your calendar before downloading Colson Whitehead’s novel. Once you start listening, you’ll be desperate to stay by teenager Cora’s side as she navigates her treacherous existence as a hunted fugitive. Whitehead takes a few liberties with history—in his telling, the enslaved people’s secret escape network is a literal railroad built into underground tunnels. But his writing rings so true the book feels like fact. Veteran audiobook narrator Bahni Turpin nails The Underground Railroad’s taut suspense and amazingly vivid storytelling. If you’re looking for a powerful listen, this is it.
The Underground Railroad
This book was riveting from the beginning to the end. Bahni Turpin's narration was wonderful.
Brilliantly written. Telling all our history is required for our country to heal and mature. This is a profound work that will shake you to the core as a human being.
I will not endure any more of this awful book.
I read or listened to the first one-eighth of this book.
Slavery is so repugnant and violent, I find it hard to read about, especially as entertainment. It makes me hate the South and makes me ashamed to be an American. Maybe that moral cost needs to be recognized, but I feel I’ve already recognized it pretty well and I’m not appreciating having to take that white man’s lesson from a book I don’t like, that seems to use two dimensional tropes about slavery and a fantasy element of trains “literally” running underground that diminishes the grim and heroic realities of the real Underground Railroad.