Pratt Podcasts

Writers LIVE: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Writers LIVE: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK! From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent, wrenching, thrilling tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, and they plot their escape. Matters do not go as planned -- Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her -- but they manage to find a station and head north.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is not a metaphor -- a secret network of tracks and tunnels has been built beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, where both find work in a city that at first seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens -- and Ridgeway, the relentless slave-catcher sent to find her, arrives in town. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing journey, state-by-state, seeking true freedom. Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey -- Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in states in the pre-Civil War era. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage, and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Colson Whitehead is the New York Times bestselling author of The Noble HustleZone OneSag HarborThe IntuitionistJohn Henry DaysApex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. A Pulitzer Prize finalist and a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.

Writers LIVE programs are supported in part by a bequest from The Miss Howard Hubbard Adult Programming Fund. 

Recorded On: Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Playing Time: 58:12

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