You’ll want to #BookmarkThis.
#BookmarkThis is a series of live video chats with best-selling authors, and fans can submit questions. (Details below.)
It’s a great opportunity to touch base with Whitehead, 48, whose 2016 novel about an escaped slave girl in the Deep South imagines the famed Underground Railroad as a literal network of tracks and stations. The Underground Railroad will be released in paperback Jan. 30 (Anchor).
Awards, plus love from Oprah and Obama
Before it ran away with 2016's most prestigious literary prizes, the novel became an instant USA TODAY best seller when Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club on Aug. 2, 2016, the day it was published.
Winfrey called The Underground Railroad “one of the most grim, gripping, powerful novels about slavery I have ever experienced.” But she also cited the book’s ultimately hopeful message: "At the end you feel a sense of inspiration. … I think (there is) no better book for a time such as this.”
The accolades kept coming, as then-president Obama said Americans should read the book; reviewers heralded it (USA TODAY called it “masterful, urgent”); and Whitehead was chosen as USA TODAY’s 2016 Author of the Year.
Imagining a literal 'Underground' railroad
Railroad’s heroine is a headstrong teenage runaway slave named Cora, who escapes a brutal cotton plantation in Georgia and tries to find her way to freedom. The novel’s melding of harsh reality with magic realism (the imagined subterranean escape route) creates a powerful and moving narrative.
In an interview with USA TODAY in April 2017 after he won the Pultizer, Whitehead said he had no idea the novel, his sixth, would "have this kind of reception. I try to do the same old thing and hope it works out. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. This time it really did."
His other books include Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist and John Henry Days.