Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning, National Book Award-winning, Oprah-anointed, #1 New York Times bestselling novel that explores America's troubled racial past as only he can—now an original Amazon Prime Video series directed by Barry Jenkins.
Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.
In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.
As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.
Look for Colson Whitehead’s new novel, Harlem Shuffle, coming this September!
About the Author
Colson Whitehead is the number one New York Times bestselling author of nine books of fiction and non-fiction, including The Underground Railroad, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award and was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. He is also a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2020, he won his second Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Nickel Boys. He lives in New York City.
“Terrific.” —Barack Obama
“An American masterpiece.” —NPR
“Stunningly daring.” —The New York Times Book Review
"A triumph." —The Washington Post
“Potent. . . . Devastating. . . . Essential.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Whitehead's best work and an important American novel.” —The Boston Globe
“Electrifying. . . . Tense, graphic, uplifting and informed, this is a story to share and remember.” —People
“Heart-stopping.” —Oprah Winfrey
“The Underground Railroad is inquiring into the very soul of American democracy. . . . A stirring exploration of the American experiment.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A brilliant reimagining of antebellum America.” —The New Republic
“Colson Whitehead’s book blends the fanciful and the horrific, the deeply emotional and the coolly intellectual. What he comes up with is an American masterpiece.” —Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto
“The Underground Railroad enters the pantheon of . . . the Great American Novels. . . . A wonderful reminder of what great literature is supposed to do: open our eyes, challenge us, and leave us changed by the end.” —Esquire
“[Whitehead] is the best living American novelist.” —Chicago Tribune
“Masterful, urgent. . . . One of the finest novels written aboutour country’s still unabsolved original sin.” —USA Today
“Brilliant. . . . An instant classic that makes vivid the darkest, most horrific corners of America’s history of brutality against black people.” —HuffPost
“Singular, utterly riveting. . . . You’ll be shaken and stunned by Whitehead’s imaginative brilliance. . . . The Underground Railroad is a book both timeless and timely. It is a book for now; it is a book that is necessary.” —BuzzFeed
“Whitehead is a writer of extraordinary stylistic powers. . . . [The Underground Railroad] offers many testaments to Whitehead’s considerable talents and examines a deeply relevant and disturbing period of American history.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“[An] ingenious novel. . . . A successful amalgam: a realistically imagined slave narrative and a crafty allegory; a tense adventure tale and a meditation on America’s defining values.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Whitehead’s novel unflinchingly turns our attention to the foundations of the America we know now.” —Elle
“Perfectly balances the realism of its subject with fabulist touches that render it freshly illuminating.” —Time
“I haven’t been as simultaneously moved and entertained by a book for many years. This is a luminous, furious, wildly inventive tale that not only shines a bright light on one of the darkest periods of history, but also opens up thrilling new vistas for the form of the novel itself.” —The Guardian