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The Underground Road clinches the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017

The Underground Railroad wins again

3 August 2017


The Underground Railroad by American author Colson Whitehead has been awarded another prestigious literary prize. Whitehead was presented with the Arthur C Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature at a ceremony held in Foyles bookshop on the 27th July. The novel has already received this year’s Pulitzer Prize and the American National Book Award, as well as the Carnegie Medal for Excellence. It has also appeared on this year’s Man-Booker Prize longlist; the winner to be announced in October of this year.

The chair of judges described the book as ‘a gripping account both of humanity’s inhumanity and the potential for resistance, underpinned by science fiction’s ability to make metaphor literal.’

The story follows Cora, a slave in a cotton plantation in Georgia, who decides to escape to the North along the Underground Railroad with fellow slave Caesar, recently arrived from Virginia. In scenes of magical realism The Underground Railroad assumes a physical form as a dilapidated box car pulled along underground tracks by a steam train, picking up fugitive slaves on the way. At the same time Cora is being pursued by a ruthless slave catcher sent to track her down.

Speaking about the award, Colson Whitehead described how reading science fiction and fantasy inspired him to be a writer saying ‘Fantasy, like realism, is a tool for describing the world.’

The Underground Railroad 11898 has garnered fulsome praise from no less than former president Barak Obama and is available from the Calibre Library for you to enjoy.

Denise James