|Colson Whitehead opened this year's|
Fall for the Book Festival.
The Underground Railroad combines realism and allegory to tell the story of 15-year-old Cora, a slave who escapes on a railway system that is literally underground. "The Underground Railroad confirms Colson Whitehead’s reputation as one of our most daring and inventive writers," The National Book Award judges wrote in their award citation for the novel. "A suspenseful tale of escape and pursuit, it combines elements of fantasy and the counter-factual with an unflinching, painfully truthful depiction of American slavery…He has given us an electrifying narrative of the past, profoundly resonant with the present."
|GMF President Kate Krohler introduces |
Whitehead before his talk.
In less than a year, the novel has gained the distinction of being one of the few works to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award --- along with the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the Heartland Prize, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. It became a #1 New York Times Bestseller and was a Best Book of the Year for numerous print and online periodicals. It's being translated into 40 languages.
In spite of this whirlwind, and of winning national honors since 2000, (including a MacArthur Fellowship Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship), Whitehead still seems surprised and slightly bemused at all the fuss. The 48-year-old Harvard graduate, who tends to describe himself as just a quirky and somewhat isolated guy pounding out stories in his "cave," admitted in an August 2016 New York Times article "I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how people are responding to the book…I'm someone who just likes being in my cave and thinking up weird stuff."
Whitehead signs his book for GMF
Board Member Barbara Coates.
someone who just likes being in my cave and thinking up weird stuff."
Well, the George Mason Friends have done their part to spread the word with enthusiasm, and we were delighted to be able to help bring him to Fairfax County! Look for Whitehead's books at the Spring book sale, but be quick -- they'll be snapped up fast!