Excerpt from The Underground Railroad

I hope you managed to pick up a copy of Sour Cherry Turnover over the weekend. If not, you can still buy it at the Kindle store. And book number nine in the Auntie Clem’s Bakery series, Vegan Baked Alaska, will be out in a couple more weeks.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme. Read the rules and more teasers at The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along.

I recently started reading Altered Carbon after hearing it recommended a couple of places, but I set it aside today. Not going to finish that one. So instead, the book I read before that: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This Pulitzer Prize Winner is pretty raw, so be sure you’re prepared before you start. Also be advised that it is fiction and some of the flights of fancy may take you off guard in a book that pretends realism.

It was her grandmother talking that Sunday evening when Caesar approached Cora about the Underground Railroad, and she said no. 
Three weeks later she said yes. 
This time it was her mother talking. 

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

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 ingenious 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.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates 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 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.

Comments

  1. It doesn’t sound like it’s for me. I don’t think I would make it all the way through. My Teaser is from a little lighter reading: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher – an urban fantasy title.

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