THIS SEASON: THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE
Tuesday, January 16th at 6pm: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
(Previously: Tuesday, November 14th at 6pm: The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan)
At the Shortlist Book Club, attendees read two books nominated for the same literary award: the winner, and one runner-up. Does the judges’ decision stand up to the test of time? And what can the two books tell us about the year that the prize was issued?
When the Pulitzer committee selected Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, they described it as “a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.” 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, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.
Attendees are expected to have read the novel (or most of it) in advance of the book club discussion. Paperback copies of The Underground Railroad are available at The Writer’s Block Book Shop. Registration is not required.