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Publisher Description

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. Soon to be 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.

Bahni Turpin
hr min
August 2
Random House Audio

Customer Reviews

arealreaderwrotethis ,

A must read

I am glad that I purchased this book. I hesitated due to the negative reviews citing graphic content and foul language. I am not sure what they expected when reading/listening to a novel about slavery. It is a wonderful story written from the perspective of a slave. The author does not sugar coat the atrocities of slavery and derogatory language is expected. It is a beautiful story about survival, strength, endurance, hope, our humanity, and the long lasting effects of a brutal system. I would highly recommend this book.


I wanted it to go on

Great story, amazing protagonist, incredible characters. I could not stop listening to this book.

kaylasometimes ,

TRIGGER WARNING: overall in poor taste

I was assigned this book for a college class. Immediately after I began reading the “N” word appeared. By the eighth page I felt inclined to check the year that this was written... 2016? Are you kidding me?

I understand the historical nature of the text, however I think the use of that sort of language in the defamatory fashion is in extremely poor taste.

We need to recognize the past as to not repeat its mistakes, not glorify or make money from the struggles endured by our ancestors. We need to be careful about the language and it’s implications that we introduce to our children, and our children’s children, in order to prevent further racism and verbal abuse, or even physical abuse.

I am very uncomfortable with reading more of this novel but I do not want to fail my class.

What more is the graphic description of sexual harassment. Written by an adult male, of young girls.

You can bet 100% that my essay on this novel will include these topics and will most definitely not be praising its author.

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