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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (September 2017)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (September 2017) Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia.  All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most: an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear that even greater pain awaits.  When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead's razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box-car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can.  Thus Cora embarks on a harrowing journey, seeking true freedom, pursued relentlessly by a terrifying slave catcher named Ridgeway.

As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day.  The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage, and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.
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