This 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction tells the remarkable journey of one young woman’s escape from working on a southern cotton plantation in Georgia to try and make a new life in the north. The story is brutal but totally inspirational.
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THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
BY COLSON WHITEHEAD
Our Book of the Moment in May was the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead which can be read alongside the televised series on Amazon Prime, directed by Barry Jenkins. Telling the remarkable journey of one young woman’s escape from working on a southern cotton plantation in Georgia to try and make a new life in the north, the story is shocking but intensely moving and inspirational.
Cora is just 15, when she is convinced by her fellow worker Caesar, to try the impossible – to run away from their lives as slaves working on the Randall’s harsh cotton plantations in Georgia. Caesar has discovered an escape route via the underground railroad - a highly secretive, dangerous underground network which gives fugitives the opportunity to disappear and emerge in a different state further north. Whitehead uses this compelling fictional story to bring alive this period of American history in an emotive, powerful narrative.
Any hope Cora has of a quiet, contended life are thwarted by the relentless slave catchers led by the ruthless Ridgeway, who has devoted his life to catching fugitives. Cora is forced to commit actions and witness scenes she could never have thought possible, but despite this, she never gives up the hope and dreams of leading a normal life.
This story lays bare the appalling injustices of slavery during this time and the white man’s capacity for evil. It is a painful read and the violence often takes your breath away, but Cora’s strength and determination shine through giving a personal and intimate narrative to this period of racial injustice. The racial discriminations in the US remain a serious issue today making this book even more poignant and timely for book club discussion.
Colson Whitehead’s latest book "The Nickel Boys" is also out in paperback and has won him his second Pulitzer Prize.