This book. Wow. This book.
I pre-ordered The Underground Railroad for my library months ago. I love Colson Whitehead’s work (Sag Harbor, Zone One) and was so excited to see he had a new novel coming out. Then when I got an ARC via NetGalley (in exchange for an honest review), I did a happy dance around my house for hours.
By now the book has made the news, now that it’s an Oprah’s Book Club pick and because of its early release date. (The book was originally slated to come out in September, which is why I thought I had more time to prepare a review.)
The Underground Railroad charts the journey of an enslaved African named Cora. She is born into slavery and escapes – for a time – on the underground railroad (which is an actual railroad). The novel is fierce and brutal, poignant and heartbreaking.
There’s a spareness and remoteness to the tone and writing, which brings the realities of slavery into a sharp, jagged, visceral reading experience. These things happened. These wounds were caused. These lives were brutally cut short. This humanity was stripped.
This is essential reading.