By Colson Whitehead
The marvellously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected debut novel from the author of The Underground Railroad.
Verticality, architectural and social, is at the heart of Colson Whitehead's first novel that takes place in an unnamed high-rise city that combines twenty-first-century engineering feats with nineteenth-century pork-barrel politics. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical ideal, and Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility.When Number Eleven of the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free-fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial 'Intuitionist' method of ascertaining elevator safety, both Intuitionists and Empiricists recognize the set-up, but may be willing to let Lila Mae take the fall in an election year.
As Lila Mae strives to exonerate herself in this urgent adventure full of government spies, underworld hit men, and seductive double agents, behind the action, always, is the Idea. Lila Mae's quest is mysteriously entwined with existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists may instantly become obsolescent.
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- Publication date:
04 May 2017
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The freshest racial allegory since Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye — Walter Kirn, Time
Ingenious and starkly original . . . Literary reputations may not always rise and fall as predictably as elevators, bit if there's any justice in the world of fiction, Colson Whitehead's should be heading toward the upper floors — New York Times Book Review
Magical . . . The Intuitionist ranks alongside Catch-22, V, The Bluest Eye and other groundbreaking first novels . . . Whitehead shares Heller's sense of the absurd, Pynchon's operatic expansiveness and Morrison's deconstruction of race and racism — San Francisco Chronicle
Whitehead's prose is graceful and often lyrical, and his elevator underworld is a complex, lovingly realized creation — New Yorker