Reading Circle 12: ‚Underground Railroad‘, by Colson Whitehead

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Reading Circle
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‚The Underground Railroad‘ (2016) by Colson Whitehead

Alex, Georg, Sandra and Andrew discuss and read from an extraordinary novel.

‚The Underground Railroad‘ is about a slave named Cora who grows up on a Georgia plantation. At the age of 15 she manages to escape with a fellow-slave, Caesar. In the novelist’s imagination, the railroad they escape by is not simply a network of vital contacts as they work their way north through a benevolent South Carolina the brutal cruelty of North Carolina. This is literally a railroad with underground tracks and locomotives making stops in different states. The real merges with the fantastic, historical chronology is subverted. The slaves are brutalized, traumatized, dehumanized. Cora is constantly pursued by the brutal, avenging slave-catcher, Ridgeway.

This historical phantasmagoria is a compelling read. The book is almost an allegory about different Americas from the mid-19th. century into the early 20th.

Music played during the discussion:

  • ‚Fixin to Die Blues‘ (Bukka White)
  • ‚Summertime‘ (sung by Billie Holliday)
  • ‚Strange Fruit‘ (Billie Holliday)
  • the Largo from Dvorak’s 9th Symphony (From the New World).

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