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The Underground Railroad
A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's desperate bid for...
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National Book Award for Fiction

Created: 11/17/16

Replies: 12

Posted Nov. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 56

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National Book Award for Fiction

The Underground Railroad just won the 2016 National Book Award. What makes it a worthy winner of this prestigious prize?


Posted Nov. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 56

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RE: National Book Award for Fiction

The Underground Railroad really stands out for me for a couple of reasons.
It's experimental. To me, a National Book Award winner ought to be pushing the novel form in some way and Whitehead certainly did that with the railroad made literal and the story transcending traditional time boundaries while still having a linear narrative. Also it is timely. 2016 is clearly a year of change and in times where the future is uncertain, knowledge and understanding of human history and behavior become more important than at other times. Fiction that makes us think can play a role here.
But what makes it really special to me is that it is not didactic in its message. I don't feel lectured by the story. And even though its immensely clever and experimental, it is not inaccessible. It is a readable, gripping novel. I hope winning this award will attract even more readers.


Posted Nov. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 35

RE: National Book Award for Fiction

I thought this was a worthy winner. It's beautifully written and it shines a light, in what I would describe as an almost ahistorical way, on a dark chapter of American history. By ahistorical, I mean that he's presenting something real from our past in a surreal sort of way. I do worry about whether people who read this book are going to try to take this as an actual history of the real underground railroad. I have to assume that the people who are going to be attracted to this book will know the difference.


Posted Nov. 22, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alisonf

Join Date: 01/31/13

Posts: 90

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RE: National Book Award for Fiction

The award is well deserved and is creative literary fiction that still addresses an important historical period but looks to where Americans are now with how they address and deal with racism? Can we be in this together? The answer from Cora's experience is not clear.


Posted Nov. 22, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alisonf

Join Date: 01/31/13

Posts: 90

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RE: National Book Award for Fiction

The award is well deserved and is creative literary fiction that still addresses an important historical period but looks to where Americans are now with how they address and deal with racism? Can we be in this together? The answer from Cora's experience is not clear.


Posted Nov. 22, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 111

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RE: National Book Award for Fiction

A well deserved award. HOWEVER: I would not have read this book had I not requested it through Book Browse. I don't know what I was thinking since I know of the Underground Railroad. I think I expected more about the RR and not a story of one woman as she attempts many escapes and the people she loves & has contact with during her plight. This is a very sad story. Cora's strength & determination drags us through the terrible era of slavery. I also fear we as a nation have maybe not progressed as much as we think we have. This election cycle has brought me to my knees.


Posted Nov. 23, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CarolynSC

Join Date: 12/02/13

Posts: 8

RE: National Book Award for Fiction

I believe this book has met the National Book Foundation's goal of celebrating the best of American literature, expanding its audience, and enhancing the cultural value of good writing in America. It is beautifully written, a gripping story, and quite topical in this day and age. I hope it gains a larger audience.


Posted Nov. 26, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beverlyj

Join Date: 12/22/11

Posts: 58

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RE: National Book Award for Fiction

After finishing this book - I had a true appreciation what Colson Whitehead set out to do and how he did it so wonderfully in this inventive novel. This is truly an American novel. It showcases how the US's decision to be a slave society has not only affected its past but its present.


Posted Nov. 30, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 164

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RE: National Book Award for Fiction

I think this book deserves the award because it is so powerful. Reading it, I experienced Cora's longing, terror, uncertainty, anger...her feelings not just as a runaway slave but as a black person in America today, still on that journey of struggle for freedom and the respect and security that comes with it, which I, as a white person, take for granted. Without lecturing or insulting me, it opened my eyes to the reality of white privilege on a visceral level, and it opened my heart, making me want to do something about it. Literature that can move the heart, not just the mind, and in a lasting way, not just for a few hours or day, is truly great.


Posted Nov. 30, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
N*Starr

Join Date: 03/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: National Book Award for Fiction

This is so deserved. I find myself recommending this book to anyone who will listen. It explores a topic that feels well worn, but this book holds up a terrible topic and makes it feel new. it reopens wounds, but it also offers a new understanding of our shared history. I feel extremely lucky to have been part of this book club- this book is the real deal!


Posted Dec. 02, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kellyo

Join Date: 09/15/16

Posts: 36

RE: National Book Award for Fiction

I went into this book not being sure I was going to like it, but ended up liking it a lot and recommending it to others. I was glad to see that Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award for Fiction. The book was well written. I enjoyed watching him talk on Book TV about writing The Underground Railroad. He really put a lot of thought into how he wanted the story told. I would be interested in reading other books by him.


Posted Dec. 21, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
N*Starr

Join Date: 03/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: National Book Award for Fiction

So well deserved. I read Undergound as a follow up to Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It felt like a natural progression from book to book. The genre of historical fiction where we learn about ourselves today from the lives of people in a fictional (but not) yesterday is so very powerful. I am happy to say that both books immediately were loaned out and I have been telling book lovers to read this book!


Posted Jan. 23, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elizabethk

Join Date: 06/11/11

Posts: 11

RE: National Book Award for Fiction

This is a powerful story. I do wish it had stuck to known historical fiction and not made the Underground Railroad surreal.


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