Colson Whitehead - The Intuitionist - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9780708898475
    • Publication date:04 May 2017

The Intuitionist

By Colson Whitehead

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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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  • ISBN: 9780708898482
  • Publication date: 04 May 2017
  • Page count:
  • Imprint: Fleet
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
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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017WINNER OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD 2017LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER 2016AMAZON.COM #1 BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Whitehead is on a roll: the reviews have been sublime' Guardian'Luminous, furious, wildly inventive' Observer'Hands down one of the best, if not the best, book I've read this year' Stylist 'Dazzling' New York Review of BooksPraised by Barack Obama and an Oprah Book Club Pick, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award 2016 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017.Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.In Whitehead's razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

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