Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book just won the National Book Award this week, so I was expecting good things. It was well-written, and beautiful in some parts, but I didn't enjoy it though for the conjunction of these reasons:

1) As you might expect of a fairly realistic account of slavery, it was very painful to read.
2) It was boring. At no point did the story become more interesting to me.
3) For me, inserting an actual train into the story didn't work. The novel is historical fiction and was mostly realistic throughout, so what why a real train? It didn't appear to save any narrative room, nor was the train itself in any way fantastical, magical, or otherwise interesting to me. The current day importance of a book like this seems somewhat harmed by the addition of this train. It makes an otherwise realistic account of slavery seem false rather than fiction, especially to people who might not have read widely on the topic. I find that worrisome.

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