Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in April 2017 and of the National Book Award, Colson Whitehead’s phenomenal race-centered novel has also been announced long-listed for the Booker Prize 2017.
Underground Railroad is everything. It is the secret to a new identity and life for slave girl Cora, as well as her past, present and future. Born and raised in a cotton farm in Georgia, Cora knows first hand the cruelty of the white man. As a child, abandoned by a mother that ran, she is strong and fights to stake a claim on what’s hers, even if all this amounts to is a three foot strip of land between cabins, and continues to do so throughout her journey. She travels by rail, smuggled from state to state, reaching for the freedom and education she was denied.
The book is a poignant reminder that freedom isn’t always what it seems and is seldom permanent, especially for a black girl. Whitehead explores the reality of people’s attitudes towards slaves and even free men with darker complexions at the time. It was truly riveting and heartbreaking for the losses and injustice she suffers but the journey makes it all worth it. I loved the rare moments when Cora finds snippets of kindness and acceptance by the people who harbor her.
My second historical fiction novel of the month whose protagonist is also named Cora is just as brilliant as the first. A brilliant coincidence.