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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Winner of 2016 National Book Award for Fiction

The winners of the National Book Awards were announced yesterday.  The fiction winner is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel by [Whitehead, Colson]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.  When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape.  Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her.  Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.  In Whitehead’s conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.  Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven.  But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens.  And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels.  Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.  (For my review, go to http://schatjesshelves.blogspot.ca/2016/09/review-of-underground-railroad-by.html.)