July Book Club: The Underground Railroad
Welcome to our July choice for the Well Read Company Book Club!
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad focuses on the slave trade in 19th Century America. Equal parts tragic and a recognition of the unbeatable human spirit, it is not always an easy read but a very necessary one. It focuses on Cora, originally a slave girl on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Her life is hellish, bringing to light the inhumane treatment of slaves in the pre Civil-war era.
When Cora manages to escape the plantation with Caesar, a fellow slave, a perilous journey begins for the pair through the American South in the search for freedom. Whitehead ingeniously brings the Underground Railroad metaphor to life. It features in his story as a real network of train tracks underneath the earth and the means for slave escape.
The reader is also forced to reflect on race relations in the current day. Whitehead’s talent is to bring these historical events up close and personal - it may not feel comfortable, but it’s not supposed to. Adding a single fantasy element - the Underground Railroad, makes the rest of the novel feel as if it couldn’t be based in reality, which makes the fact that it was real life for a whole portion of humanity even more shocking.
Whitehead’s novel has won numerous awards, including the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction. It has also recently been adapted into a TV series on Amazon Prime Video, directed by Barry Jenkins and released in May of this year. The TV series is just as eye-opening, and full of the same beautiful style of dialogue and pacing that makes the book sing. We also recommend you give it a try!
We loved reading this novel and are so excited to discuss it with you. Pease tell us what you thought via social media or by commenting on this post!
NEXT MONTH: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens