#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER and a NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER FOR FICTION 2016 'Whitehead is on a roll: the reviews have been sublime' Guardian 'Luminous, furious, wildly inventive' Observer 'Hands down one of the best, if not the best, book I've read this year' Stylist 'Dazzling' New York Review of Books Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear 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. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. 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.
Colson Whitehead, geboren 1969 in New York, studierte an der Harvard University und arbeitete für die Zeitschriften Vibe, Spin und New York Newsday sowie als Fernsehkritiker für "The Village Voice". Er wurde für seinen Roman The Underground Railroad 2016 mit dem National Book Award und 2017 mit dem Pulitzer Prize for Fiction sowie der Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction und dem Arthur C. Clarke Award ausgezeichnet; 2020 erhielt er für The Nickel Boys den Pulitzer Prize for Fiction erneut, was vor ihm in der mehr als 100-jährigen Geschichte des Preises erst bei drei Schriftstellern der Fall gewesen war.