What is the summary of the book The Underground Railroad?
- The Underground Railroad: Book Review by Dinh. 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.
What was bad about the Underground Railroad?
Slave states and slave hunters The Southern Underground Railroad went through slave states, lacking the abolitionist societies and the organized system of the north. People who spoke out against slavery were subject to mobs, physical assault, and being hanged.
Is the Underground Railroad a good book?
The novel received positive reviews from critics. Reviewers praised it for its commentary on the past and present of the United States. In 2019, The Underground Railroad was ranked 30th on The Guardian’s list of the 100 best books of the 21st century.
Why was the Underground Railroad illegal?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.
How true is the book The Underground Railroad?
Adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-award-winning novel, The Underground Railroad is based on harrowing true events. Directed by Barry Jenkins, the new Amazon Prime series is a loyal adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel of the same name.
How successful was the Underground Railroad?
Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
Is Colson Whitehead married?
Whitehead lives in Manhattan and also owns a home in Sag Harbor on Long Island. His wife, Julie Barer, is a literary agent and they have two children.
Does Colson Whitehead teach?
He has taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, New York University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, and been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.
What was the Underground Railroad book reading level?
ISBN-10: 0395979153. Reading Level: Lexile Reading Level 1240L. Guided Reading Level V.
What dangers did Harriet Tubman face?
When she was about 12 years old she reportedly refused to help an overseer punish another enslaved person, and she suffered a severe head injury when he threw an iron weight that accidentally struck her; she subsequently suffered seizures throughout her life.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman save?
Fact: According to Tubman’s own words, and extensive documentation on her rescue missions, we know that she rescued about 70 people —family and friends—during approximately 13 trips to Maryland.
Is Underground a true story?
Underground’s stars say the same. So while Underground is not based on any specific real people, it proves that you can still be very faithful to history without following the events of a single person’s life.
Review: ‘Underground Railroad’ Lays Bare Horrors of Slavery and Its Toxic Legacy (Published 2016)
When Colson Whitehead takes the Underground Railroad (the loosely interlocking network of black and white activists who helped slaves escape to freedom in the decades before the Civil War) and turns it into a metaphor for an actual train that transports fugitives northward, it becomes one of the most dynamic novels of the year. As a result, the novel is a powerful, even hallucinogenic experience that leaves the reader with a dismal awareness of the horrible human consequences of slavery. This novel is reminiscent of the chilling, matter-of-fact power of the slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, as well as echoes of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” as well as brush strokes borrowed from Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, and Jonathan Swift.
The novel follows the story of Cora, a teenage slave who escapes the Georgia plantation where she was born, risking everything in her search of freedom, just as her mother Mabel had done years earlier.
Cora must travel from Georgia to South Carolina to North Carolina to Tennessee to Indiana, evading not only Ridgeway but also other bounty hunters, informers, and lynch mobs — with assistance, along the way, from a few dedicated “railroad” workers, both black and white, who are willing to put their lives on the line to save hers.
- The novel’s literalization of the Underground Railroad is not the only instance of a dreamy quality in it.
- These surreal elements give the narrative a mythic dimension that gives “The Underground Railroad” more magic and depth of field.
- Whitehead was able to develop an elastic voice that can accommodate both brute realism and fablelike allegory, as well as the plainspoken and the poetic — a voice that allows him to convey the historical horrors of slavery with raw, shocking power.
- The harshness of life on the plantation is shown in vivid detail, including Cora’s gang-rape and whippings (which are sometimes followed by a washing in pepper water to increase the intensity of the suffering) that are commonplace.
- Human and animal bodies are burnt on pyres, both living and dead.
- Despite the threat of such heinous torture, Cora is unafraid to flee.
Whitehead says that in North Carolina, slave patrollers “did not require a justification to halt a person aside from their race or national origin.” One senator warns an enraged throng that their “Southern heritage lay unprotected and threatened” because of the “colored miscreants” who lurked in the shadows, threatening “to defile the residents’ wives and daughters.” Such paragraphs ring true today, given the police shootings of unarmed black men and boys, the stop-and-frisk practices that disproportionately target minorities, and the anti-immigrant rhetoric employed by politicians to inflame prejudice and fear among the public.
- He is under no obligation to do so.
- “It hasn’t even passed yet.” Mr.
- Meanwhile, he commemorates the hunger for freedom that has propelled generation after generation to continue in the pursuit of justice – despite threats and intimidation, despite reversals and attempts to turn the clock back.
As a result of his efforts, we now have a better grasp of both the American history and the American present. Sunday, August 7 will see the publication of an extract from “The Underground Railroad” in a special broadsheet section of the newspaper; there will be no internet edition.
The Underground Railroad: A Problematic Prizewinner of a Novel
Colson Whitehead is an author. (Image courtesy of CBS/YouTube) The author’s version of the “Freedom Trail” is a long cry from the actual trail. Note from the editor: The novel The Underground Railroad, written by Colson Whitehead, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction on Monday. The following is an excerpt from Jay Nordlinger’s review of the book, which appeared in the October 10, 2016, edition of National Review. C olson Whitehead is an author from the United States who was born in 1969.
- He has received several awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur “genius grant.” He has been lauded as a “fully realized masterpiece” by the Boston Globe for his most recent work.
- It was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her book club, which may result in a financial windfall.
- Furthermore, reviewers’ copies were accompanied by an exceptional letter that served as the very first page of the book itself.
- “The desire to deliver works like these into the world is the driving force behind our decision to enter this difficult profession.” acclaimed African-American author Colson Whitehead has written a magnificent novel about slavery that is sure to wow readers.
- However, he is a man, not a totem, and I’m sure he enjoys the fact that he is being treated as such.
- It is also tinged with a sense of well-being.
- There are home runs and whiffs in the game of baseball.
Other musicians are neither fantastic nor off at any point in their careers.
My opinion is that it is least successful in situations where it teaches and preaches — for example, when a social-studies teacher ensures that students realize America’s great crimes.
Nonetheless, I keep in mind that it’s his book, not mine or yours.
The narrative opens with Ajarry, her grandmother, who has been kidnapped from her home in Africa.
“It has a white appearance, like bone.” Her kidnappers rape her before she can say anything.
The terminology Whitehead used to tell his account of slavery is dated, and it takes some getting accustomed to: “buck,” “pickaninny,” and, of course, the most obnoxious word of all, “nigger.” For a brief period of time, children under slavery are relatively carefree.
A pickaninny may be joyful one day and then find themselves in a world where the light had been taken away from them; in the interim, they had been exposed to the new reality of bondage.” (Whitehead use pronouns in a contemporary manner.) Allow me to share with you one of the most beautiful and impactful phrases in the whole book with you.
- I’ve discovered that in slavery stories, as well as Holocaust and other stories, all that is required is that the story be spoken – without embellishment.
- Lucy and Titania never talked, the former because she decided not to, and the latter because her tongue had been chopped off by a previous owner, to name a few examples from Whitehead’s novel.
- “Thank you very much!
- “I took out a nigger.” “Well, it’s a good thing, because people do get harmed occasionally”).
- A group of white individuals gets together for a picnic one day.
- Eventually, he is smothered in oil and burnt to death.
- As time passes, Cora escapes the plantation with the assistance of another slave.
To make matters worse, the runaways are being pursued by Ridgeway, the world’s most cruel slave-catcher, who also happens to have a philosophy, which he refers to as “the American Imperative.” He claims that it is the American Imperative to kill, steal, enslave, and destroy in order to advance the country’s interests.
- In its most literal sense, it is a network of underground rails, replete with choo-choos, engineers, and other amenities.
- In South Carolina, the runaways have found a haven, where they can earn a living performing honest labor among nice white people — or at least decent-looking white people.
- They are also being infected with syphilis, which is occurring far before the Tuskegee Experiment.
- The author decides to become a teacher and preacher.
- Take, for example, the atrocities committed by Americans against the Red Man.
- I was reminded of the sitcoms I grew up watching in the 1970s and 1980s, not all of which were created by Norman Lear: they were constantly making sure that social concerns were brought home, although in a more subtle manner.
- Black people are shown as being hung up in trees for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see, in Whitehead’s work.
He also mocks the real Freedom Trail.
“If a female wants to move ahead in this country, she has to look out for her own interests,” she explains to her pals.
I like Whitehead as a person more than I like his role.
He makes fun of Ethel for having a childhood dream of becoming a missionary in Africa.
In this work, Whitehead employs religion as a counterpoint to his own beliefs.
However, after she has been lynched — that is, stoned to death — by a white mob, he makes fun of her.
Across the bottom of the paper, I scribbled, “Heartless.” Furthermore, Whitehead compares the white guy who wishes to rape the slave with the white man who wishes to assist her — since both act out of selfish motives and seek fulfillment — which is problematic.
This book has a point of view, if not an agenda, as follows: America, the wretched and unredeemable nation of sin.
This is what a hero of the novel — who is most likely a spokesperson for the author — says: “If there is any justice in the world, this nation should not exist since its roots are built on murder, theft, and cruelty.” “However, here we are.” An allusion to The Parable of the Good Samaritan may be found in the final two pages of the book.
- She is passed by by a white pair (like the priest in the parable).
- In contrast to the Levite, he inquires as to whether the foreigner requires assistance.
- Finally, the Samaritan appears, to put it another way: “an elder negro guy,” whose eyes are kind.
- One of the effects they had on me was to make me consider what I would do if I were forced to live as a slave.
- How far would I go in my rebellion?
- Would I be willing to run?
- We are fortunate in that we are not slaves.
For example, the finding of a fugitive who has been missing for years.
We require a small amount of.
Also, have you ever noticed how, in horror films and other films, the good guys choose to leave the bad guy alive rather than murdering him when the opportunity presents itself?
The same type of situation is likely to occur in novels as well as movies.
I’ve already mentioned one dragging section of the Underground Railroad, but there are others as well.
I was interested in learning what occurred next.
I made a quick U-turn and continued straight through to the conclusion. This may appear to be a little amount of praise, especially in light of the negative reception that this work has received. However, this is not the case. No way, not in my opinion.
The Underground Railroad’s Troubling Allure
The package came one spring evening in 1849, thanks to the overland express service. It was three feet long, two feet wide, and two and a half feet deep. It had been packed the previous morning in Richmond, Virginia, and then transported by horse cart to the local office of the Adams Express Company, which was located in nearby Richmond. When it arrived at the railroad terminal, it was loaded onto a train and then moved to a steamer, where it was placed upside down despite the label stating “THIS SIDE UP WITH CARE.” A fatigued passenger then flipped it over and used it as a seat.
After reaching the nation’s capital, it was put into a wagon, dropped at the railway station, loaded onto a luggage car, and then transported to Philadelphia, where it was emptied onto another wagon before being delivered at 31 North Fifth Street.
Upon opening it, a man named Henry Brown emerged: five feet eight inches tall, two hundred pounds, and, as far as anyone is aware, the first person in United States history to free himself from slavery by “getting myself conveyed as dry goods to a free state,” as he put it later in his autobiography.
Leigh GuldigMcKim, a white abolitionist with the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society who had by then been working for the Underground Railroad for more than a decade, was impressed by the heroism and drama of Brown’s escape, as well as the courage and drama of others like it.
After first appearing in our collective consciousness in the eighteen-forties, the Underground Railroad has become a fixture of both national history and local tradition.
On television, the WGN America network broadcasted the first season of “Underground,” a drama series that chronicles the lives of a group of slaves known as the Macon Seven as they leave a Georgia farm.
A collection of writings about the Underground Railroad was published in 2004 by Yale historian David Blight under the title “Passages to Freedom.” “Bound for Canaan,” written by Fergus Bordewich in the next year, was the first national history of the railroad in more than a century and was published in 1897.
The adult biographies of Harriet Tubman, the railroad’s most famous “conductor,” were published only twice between 1869 and 2002; since then, more than four times as many have been published, along with a growing number of books about her for children and young adults—five in the nineteen-seventies, six in the nineteen-eighties, twenty-one in the nineteen-nineties, and more than thirty since the turn of the century.
- Under addition, an HBO biopic of Tubman is now in preparation, and the United States Treasury confirmed earlier this year that she will be featured on the twenty-dollar note beginning in the next decade.
- Since 1998, the National Park Service has been attempting to establish a Network to Freedom, a nationwide network of Underground Railroad sites that have been officially recognized but are administered by local communities.
- The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park will be the first national monument dedicated to Tubman’s life and accomplishments.
- McKim hoped that by telling these stories, we would be moved to feelings of respect, adoration, and outrage, and he was right.
- No one knows who came up with the phrase.
It originally appeared in print in an abolitionist newspaper in 1839, at the close of a decade in which railways had come to represent wealth and development, and more than three thousand miles of real track had been completed throughout the country, according to the National Railway Historical Society.
- Colson Whitehead’s latest novel takes use of both of these characteristics by doing consciously what practically every young child learning about our country’s history does naively: taking the phrase “Underground Railroad” to its literal meaning.
- Whitehead has a fondness for fanciful infrastructure, which is initially exposed in his outstanding debut novel, “The Intuitionist,” through the use of psychically active elevators.
- In “The Underground Railroad,” he more or less reverses the strategy he used in his previous trick.
- It is an astute decision, since it serves to remind us that no metaphor has ever brought anybody to freedom.
- That set of questions was initially posed in a thorough and methodical manner by a historian at Ohio State University called Wilbur Siebert in the 1930s.
“The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom,” the history that resulted from the investigation, was published in 1898 and depicted a network of more than three thousand anti-slavery activists, the majority of whom were white, who assisted in the transportation of largely anonymous runaways to freedom.
- An abolitionist group working undercover (through tunnels, trapdoors, and hidden passageways) and using covert signals (lanterns placed in windows and quilts hung on laundry lines) to assist enslaved African-Americans in their journey to freedom is depicted in that image.
- Like so many other stories about our nation’s history, that one has a difficult relationship to the truth: it is not exactly incorrect, but it is simplified; it is not quite a myth, but it has been mythologized.
- Furthermore, even the most active abolitionists spent just a small percentage of their time on clandestine adventures involving packing boxes and other such contraptions; instead, they focused on important but mundane chores such as fund-raising, teaching, and legal help, among other things.
- Regarding the belief that travelers on the Underground Railroad communicated with one another through the use of quilts, that thought first surfaced in the 1980s, without any apparent evidence (thenineteen -eighties).
Nobody disputes that white abolitionists were involved in the Underground Railroad, but later scholars argued that Siebert exaggerated both the number of white abolitionists and the importance of their involvement, while downplaying or ignoring the role played by African-Americans in the Underground Railroad.
- However, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1816 in direct response to American racism and the institution of slavery, receives little mainstream attention.
- It is not only institutions but also people who are affected by this imbalanced awareness.
- His book about it was published a quarter of a century before Siebert’s, and it was based on detailed notes he kept while helping 639 fugitives on their journey to freedom.
- This distribution of credit is inversely proportionate to the level of danger that white and black anti-slavery advocates were exposed to.
- Some were slain, some perished in prison, and others fled to Canada because they were afraid of being arrested or worse.
These, however, were the exceptions. Most whites were subjected to just penalties and the disapproval of some members of their society, but those who resided in anti-slavery strongholds, as many did, were able to go about their business virtually unhindered.
Amazon.com: Customer reviews: The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel
5.0 stars out of 5 for this product THIS WAS AWESOME. As a result, in full disclosure, This was reviewed on October 5, 2016 in the United States. THIS WAS AWESOME. Because as a U.S. history major who has read several novels on slavery, I was doubtful that Whitehead could come up with something new, intriguing, and distinctive to the genre and subject matter. But I was proven wrong by Whitehead’s brilliant performance. Allow me to share something with you. I was up late, grabbing this book with both hands, if you will, white knuckling it if you will.
- Eventually, I would have to put it down and realize that this was not real at all!
- This touched near to home for me since I am a young black lady.
- I’m not sure whether I would have been able to maintain my composure and logic.
- The conclusion is powerful, if not downright frustrating in certain areas of the story.
- If you’re looking for a novel that will leave you feeling inspired, I strongly recommend this one.
REVIEW: Colson Whitehead Brilliantly Reimagines the Underground Railroad — The National Book Review
The Underground Railroadby Colson Whitehead, published by Doubleday Books, contains 320 pages of text.
By Kimberly Fain
Colson Whitehead’s latest literary tour de force, The Underground Train, reimagines the network of routes and hiding places for fleeing slaves as an actual railroad beneath the surface of the earth. He also returns to a story with a fearless black female heroine, something he has not done since his debut novel, The Intuitionist, which featured Lila Mae Watson, a trailblazing elevator inspector who breaks through barriers. He is now working on a new novel set in the antebellum South in which the protagonist, Cora, is a slave who escapes slavery and strives for freedom in a society that provides significant challenges.
- Cora and other slaves were completely unaware that the money and economy of the southern states at the time were heavily reliant on bruised black bodies as assets, which was a source of great concern to them.
- If they are captured, they will be subjected to cruel mental and physical humiliation, as well as a horrific death if they are caught.
- Whitehead portrays a bleak picture of a slave world in which emancipation was rarely sought for by the oppressed.
- The parameters of her job and life were set by the whims of her owner, James Randall, and the supervisor, Connelly.
- Despite James’s fiery nature, he typically preferred to delegate authority to Connelly; in many situations, he was away visiting sadomasochistic prostitutes in New Orleans, which was one of his favorite pastimes.
- Following their arrival to the Randall plantation in carriages, the villagers dined on turtle soup and spiced rum while watching a fugitive slave called Big Anthony being roasted over an open fire in one particularly darkly Gothic scenario.
- Cora did manage to escape, accompanied by a guy named Caeser, from a life she could no longer bear.
While there, she learns that the environment is kind and paternalistic toward free blacks.
She goes on after determining that this superficial refuge does not provide her with the freedom she needs.
Because it is forbidden for black people to set foot in North Carolina, she takes refuge in the attic of an abolitionist.
A stark contrast is immediately apparent to her: the dog receives far better care than individuals of color like her.
Even in their leisure activities, North Carolinians have a strong sense of racial superiority.
In its prejudiced portrayal of slavery as an almost benign system, the minstrel show implies that blacks would starve if it weren’t for the benevolence of their slave masters, which is a fallacy.
After confronting famine, severe weather, wild creatures, and a cruel Northern boss on the run, he begs for forgiveness from his former master in the role of fugitive.
The Nightriders then bring on stage a former slave called Louisa, who is afraid of them.
With her decision not to attend the conclusion of this Friday Festival ritual, Cora asserts a level of independence that she did not have when living on the Randall plantation.
The Underground Railroad has arrived at an opportune moment.
There is still a significant mismatch between the history of slavery and the contemporary state of the African-American population, as seen by the public conversation.
This dissonance of white indifference to black existence is captured well by Whitehead’s purposeful, matter-of-fact tone, which is both compelling and terrifying in its effect.
Although it may seem strange, artists such as Whitehead and Hendrix are the greatest at telling the tale of liberation because they infuse it with an undercurrent of recalled bondage.
With regard to the Underground Railroad, Whitehead has settled on something that is as iconic of African-American liberation and independence as the Star-Spangled Banner is of American freedom and independence.
Both black and white freedom in the United States have their roots in slavery’s ghosts.
Whitehead has been fascinated by the intersection between race and technology for a long time.
However, he has remained silent on the matter of slavery and the cruelty that accompanies it up until now.
The concept for Underground Railroad, according to Whitehead, occurred to him sixteen years ago, according to several interviews.
Given his maturity as a writer, as seen by his best-selling novels and literary honors, he definitely possesses the insight and writerly talent to face slavery, a topic to which he has given a revolutionary approach.
Black bodies have never, ever truly been free in this country, and Whitehead’s insightful, imaginative, and lyrical vision of what it means to be legally bound and then legitimately liberated in a country where black bodies have never, ever truly been free has no choice but to be heard around the world.
Among her publications are Colson Whitehead: The Postracial Voice of Contemporary Literature and Black Hollywood: From Butlers to Superheroes, the Changing Role of African American Men in the Movies, both of which are available on Amazon.
Kimberly Fain may be found on Twitter under the handle @KimberlyFain.
All Book Marks reviews for The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Rave Book Club Selection by Oprah Winfrey: The Oprah Magazine (Oprah’s Book Club). Oprah Winfrey, O: The Oprah Magazine. Every now and again, a book comes along that penetrates to the very core of your being, takes root, and refuses to leave. This is one of them. In my opinion, it is a tour de force.a powerful, almost hallucinogenic tale that leaves the reader with a crushing awareness of the horrible human costs of slavery.and I don’t say that lightly. This novel possesses the chilling matter-of-fact power of the slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, as well as 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.
- There are no wasted words in this book, and it’s clear that each line was written with meticulous attention to detail.
- As much as it is a searing account of a horrible past, The Underground Railroadis a particularly remarkable work of fiction, and it is regarded as an American classic.
- The Underground Railroad breathes new life into the slave narrative, upends our established understanding of the past, and stretches the ligaments of history all the way into our own day.
- One more work has been added to the canon of vital novels concerning America’s strange institution.
- Whitehead occasionally finds it difficult to weave it together with the prolonged scene-setting that goes into describing each state and which more plainly arouse his talents than the chase drama.
- Because, via its tour d’horizon of persecution, The Underground Railroad is probing the very heart of American democracy, weighing the promise of its values against the realities of its history.
- What we have here is something larger and more piercing—a glittering antebellum anti-myth in which the fugitive’s pursuit for freedom—which has become so marketable and familiar—becomes a type of Trojan horse.
- Whitehead transforms the runaway’s all-American story—grit, hardship, and reward—into a gloomy Voltairean adventure, an underground trek through the unexplored eras of unfreedom, a journey through the uncharted epochs of unfreedom.
- However, while the gently antiquated writing and comprehensive description combine to create an universe that is completely realistic, the novel does not overtly display its historical study.
- Many years have passed since I read a book that affected me and delighted me at the same time.
Check out the whole review here: The Underground Railroadbecomes much more than a historical fiction when it is turned into a documentary.
Whitehead’s imagination, free of the constraints of intransigent facts, propels the novel to new locations in the history of slavery, or rather, to areas where it has something fresh to say about the institution.
Read the Entire Review There are times in The Underground Railroad when the narrative feels a little constrained by its responsibility to offer a historically accurate atrocity exhibition and explain the precise importance of what is being displayed.
Whitehead discovers a common ground with the fiery but reserved Cora in her steadfast desire to put in an honest day’s work for people who would appreciate it as much as she does.
Check out the whole review here: We are given a solemn and completely realized masterwork by Whitehead, a strange combination of history and imagination that will have critics properly drawing analogies to Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garca-Márquez, among others.
- The Underground Railroad is Whitehead’s finest work and an essential American novel.
- Read the entire review.masterful and timely new book.
- However, despite the fact that the novel has flaws (Ridgeway’s gang comes dangerously close to becoming kitsch, for example), its great energy more than makes up for these shortcomings.
- Read the Entire Review In spite of the fact that America is a young nation full of colorful individuals and distinctive colors, it is also undeveloped and unforgiving; it is a place that punishes the best of intentions on the fly and rewards the ruthless time and time again.
- Read the whole review on ThroughoutRailroad.
- His set pieces in this scenario are executed with astonishing perfection, since he has become excellent at drawing engaging settings.
- Like any literary masterpiece, Whitehead’s work offers elegantly structured questions that speak not only to the past or the present, but to the very nature of time itself.
Read the Entire Review It takes courage to make the railroad tangible in fiction, as it does in speculative world-building.
Whitehead weaves together the historical aspects of slavery with the present with a deadpan dexterity and a quiet daring that is refreshing.
It’s a fantastic novel – brilliantly written, ferocious in its terror, and serving as a stand-in for historical accuracy.
A successful mix of realistically rendered slave story and clever metaphor; a suspenseful adventure tale and an examination of the founding principles of the United States of America, it is instead.
The Underground Railroad contains poignant, horrifying, and bleakly humorous moments in equal measure.
Characterization and psychological plausibility are less effective in the novel in terms of identifying unique and psychologically credible people.
Read the whole review.This is undoubtedly Whitehead’s best work.
The brilliance of Whitehead is on full show throughout this work.
Yes, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
a page-turning, never-ending adventure, a masterfully created story that has a strong emotional hold on the reader With a little of bite and heart, it’s an alternate history that’s worth reading.
In this strange tale, no message is attempted; instead, one of the most riveting stories I have ever read is told.
Read the whole review here.
a gripping fantasy about race relations in the United States, given further structure and speed by the continued pursuit of Cora by a maniacal slave-catcher named Ridgeway.
What we take away from The Underground Railroadis a feeling that racism in the United States is prevalent, flexible, and long-standing.
This is a surreal, mashup universe where one historical era is mixed with another for the purpose of sharpening perceptions of racial reality.
This dangerous trek to the north becomes not just a gripping adventure novel, but it also serves as a symbolic recapitulation and evaluation of the wider African American past.
That uncommon type of fiction, The Underground Railroad, that is noteworthy without having a notable lead character, must be regarded as such.
It should be noted, however, that throughout the book’s 320 pages, there is always a glimmer of optimism that will not give up.
The Underground Railroaddoes not have to shock people with its gruesomeness in order to be effective.
Throughout the novel, Whitehead smoothly connects the past to the present, making history a visceral experience that cannot be ignored.
Through the exercise of imagining how things could have been different in an other historical reality, Whitehead serves as a reminder of the horrors, hopes, and leaps of faith that molded the actual lives of early African Americans — and which continue to resonate now.
Check out the whole review here: It is my pleasure to be the 1,000th person to inform you that the product is even better than the buzz.
- a cleverly structured novel that is also a treasure trove of linguistic riches After a long journey through the novel, the characters develop into complex human beings with complicated pasts.
- And one that is certainly still required.
- Whitehead does not hold back in depicting the most heinous aspects of the slave experience, as well as the racist discourse that accompanied it.
- Whitehead’s work is a narrative, not a political statement.
- Read the Entire Review Despite the fact that Whitehead’s terse and clear style never dwells on the harshness of slave life, he does not shy away from the truths of the situation either.
- The sci-fi nerd in you might want some technological aspects explained, but you’ll have to make do with the beautiful and austere mystery that surrounds the scenario for the moment.
- Read the Entire Review Yes, it is that excellent.
I promise you that. A lot of Oprah Winfrey’s book club selections are more about sentimentality than content, but in the case of The Underground Railroad, the talk show host has gifted her fans with a superb novel from the Toni Morrison of the next generation, which is rare. Read the Entire Review
The Underground Railroad is a towering series about the ways slavery still infects America
It is unavoidably difficult for a white critic such as me to examine a work of art that is explicitly about the Black experience in America. There is a danger of coming across as condescending at best and appropriative at worst when attempting to equate the pain, trauma, and terror that often falls on Black Americans to the personal sorrows that white viewers may experience in their everyday lives, as is the case with this film. It is conceivable and even desirable for white audiences to discover personal connection in the lives of protagonists in films like as Do the Right Thing or12 Years a Slave because great art weaves universal stories out of unique realities.
- Despite the fact that I have a terrible background, I do not live under the same crushing weight of centuries of slavery and institutional racism as so many others have.
- Both Do the Right Thing and 12 Years a Slave are excellent films, but both urge us to look unflinchingly at the horrendous ways in which America abuses its Black residents.
- As a result, I’d want to proceed with caution when evaluating The Underground Railroad, a 10-episode television version of Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.
- In no way should it be lauded as a narrative in which anybody can identify with the characters.
- Things about my own life and personal anguish were brought to the surface by The Underground Railroad, but I never lost sight of the fact that, while I could identify with portions of this tale, it was not my own.
Jenkins acknowledges that this is a narrative about humanity, and he allows you the opportunity to discover yourself in it without detracting from the story’s central theme – even if you don’t like what you see.
For an adaptation of a great novel by an acclaimed filmmaker,The Underground Railroadsure acts like a TV show. Good.
Ridgeway, played by Joel Edgerton, is a slave catcher who is relentlessly on Cora’s trail, until he is killed by her. Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon Studios is the photographer. When a brilliant filmmaker creates a television program, he or she is all too frequently content to merely extend their usual storytelling approach across a longer period of time than they would otherwise. A reason why Drivedirector Nicolas Winding Refn’s 10-episode Amazon seriesToo Old to Die Youngdidn’t make much of a splash when it premiered in the summer of 2019, despite the fact that it was directed by one of the most exciting young directors working today: The whole thing moved at the speed of molasses.
- This difficulty is mostly eliminated because to the Underground Railroad.
- Cora goes from place to place via an actual subterranean railroad — complete with train and everything — in an attempt to determine exactly what is wrong with each new locale she encounters.
- It’s not like Whitehead sits you down and says, “The South Carolina portion is all about the promise and final withering away of Reconstruction,” and the South Carolina chapter (the second episode of the series) is about much more than that.
- Whitehead’s concept is tied together by the following: In the series, Cora is being relentlessly chased by a slave catcher named Ridgeway (played by Joel Edgerton), who is determined to pull her back into slavery despite the fact that she is sort of going forward in time.
It is always possible for the country’s racist past to be linked to its racist present, and Whitehead’s use of Ridgeway is a far more compelling exploration of this idea than any big, heartbreaking speech Cora could give on the subject (although several of the series’ characters deliver some incredible speeches).
Each episode of the series may reasonably easily be read as a stand-alone story, with casual viewers having just the most rudimentary comprehension of the main characters and their position at the time of viewing.
They were also included in the novel, but Jenkins and his colleagues have made them a significant part of the overall experience by focusing on them as palate cleansers.
For example, the camera may zoom in for a God’s-eye view of a burning hamlet, or an episode might progress mostly without speaking until it reaches a long, gloriously talky sequence near the conclusion.
However, binge-watching The Underground Railroadwould run the risk of reducing it to the level of a pulp thriller — typically, the best shows to watch in a marathon have clearly defined episodic stories that connect up into longer, serialized stories — but binge-watching this series would run the risk of reducing it to the level of a pulp thriller.
- For comparison, Steve McQueen’s 2020 anthology series Small Axe is similar in that it introduces new people in each episode, although The Underground Railroad does not.
- The first episode has some graphic depictions of slavery, but it picks and selects which pictures to include.
- Despite making it plain that no one should ever see what is going to be seen, the sequence’s build helps the spectator to mentally prepare themselves for what they’re about to witness.
- When these tropes are in the hands of others, they might feel stale.
- The slave, a guy we’ve scarcely known up to this point, keeps his humanity at the same time as people who aren’t especially disturbed by what’s going on retain their humanity in a different sense, thanks to the efforts of the Master.
- The sound design for The Underground Railroad is likewise deserving of particular mention.
- For example, when we hear a door swinging on its rusted hinges or a blacksmith pounding away in his shop, we hear that sound a little louder in the soundtrack than we would if we were in the same setting in real life.
While Cora is standing in an apparently deserted building, the sound of a chain jangling somewhere in the background quietly disturbs her, recalling the shackles that were placed on slaves in the first episode.
TheUnderground Railroadtells a universal story about moving through PTSD — but it is still a very specific version of PTSD
Cora finds herself in several really dark situations, both physically and metaphorically. Image courtesy of Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios In contemplating The Underground Railroad’s frequent use of metallic sounds, I began to get why I found the series so compelling, for reasons other than its tale and storytelling. Cora’s journey struck a chord with me because it mirrored my own recent experiences of attempting to fight my identity away from a history that was threatening to swallow it whole. My whole adult existence has felt like a process of peeling back layers of rotten, awful stuff, some of which was placed upon me at my conception.
- However, this is where the conundrum I described at the outset of this review comes into effect.
- After all, we’ve all experienced discomfort at some time in our lives, right?
- (At least, that’s how this type of critical argument works.) It is also feasible to go in the other direction.
- For example, John Singleton’s 1991 classicBoyz n the Hood is an incredibly well-made coming-of-age drama set in the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyz n the Hood.
- Singleton had little influence over how Boyz n the Hood would be accepted into mainstream society once it had begun to spread.
- In this way, watching the correct movies might be seen as a form of gradual self-vindication: I am vicariously feeling the sorrow of others, and that makes me a decent person.
Take note of how frequently he places the process of perceiving brutalities, both vast and commonplace, at the core of his argument: A scenario in which a white audience watches a whipping, for example, lingers on both the white audience and the Black audience for such flogging, watching how the white spectators treat the show as if it were nothing more than window decorating for an afternoon picnic.
The unusual temporal dilation of Whitehead’s work also serves to keep the series from having a distancing impact on the reader.
Upon leaving the plantation, Cora travels through a number of other worlds, many of which bear unnerving resemblances to the current day in ways that disturb viewers who would be inclined to dismiss these stories as being set in the distant past.
Despite our numerous and obvious differences, I recognized myself in Cora.
I, too, wish to let go of my past, but I’ve found it to be more difficult than I had anticipated.
That is an excellent forecast.
Then, just when it seems like you’ve become comfortable with your reading of The Underground Railroad—or with any reading, for that matter—Jenkins will clip in pictures of the various Black characters from throughout the series, each of whom is looking gravely into the camera.
We identify with the characters in the stories we read or watch.
However, as you are watching what happens to these individuals, they are gazing straight back at you, via the camera, across the chasms of time that separate you from them.
And what do they notice when they take a glance behind them? The Underground Railroadwill premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, May 14th. It is divided into ten episodes with running times ranging from 20 minutes to 77 minutes. Yes, this is true. Believe me when I say that it works.