I remember seeing a blurb of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, most likely in 2017 when the book and its author was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It hooked me and I put the book in my Want-to-read-list on Goodreads. So I bought it. That’s not so common after all, I am an avid lover of library books, I am proud to say!
But I am glad I did buy it. If nothing else because I now have a great book to gift to someone, because it is truly a worthwhile read.
“She was a stray after all. A stray not only in its plantation meaning – orphaned, with no one to look after her – but in every other sphere as well. Somewhere, years ago, she had stepped off the path of life and could no longer find her way back to the family of people.”
It’s imaginative, the way Colson spins the underground railroad, transforming a historical phenomenon into something which makes my head spin. And he does it so skilfully I catch myself multiple times thinking this is really how it was done…
“Freedom was a thing that shifted as you looked at it, the way a forest is dense with trees up close but from outside, from the empty meadow, you see its true limits. Being free had nothing to do with chains or how much space you had. On the plantation, she was not free, but she moved unrestricted on its acres, tasting the air and tracing the summer stars. The place was big in its smallness. Here, she was free of her master but slunk around a warren so tiny she couldn’t stand.”
It’s a book of ups and downs.
Of friendships and fierceness, of horrors and hardships, of love, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“To see chains on another person and be glad they are not your own – such was the good fortune permitted colored people, defined by how much worse it could be at any moment. If your eyes met, both parties looked away.”
Whenever I read or hear about the horrors that humans can inflict on other humans… I breakdown. Cry. I have a hard time to accept the things we do to each other, that are anything but kind. And this book… filled with “things we do to each other that are anything but kind”. And, luckily enough, not just that, though. The book leaves me with a sense of hope, strangely enough. Perhaps because things have changed. For the better. Far from good enough in many aspects, but better than it was in the times depicted so skilfully by Whitehead.
The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.