Oprah’s Book Club 2016 Selection: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead

By Julia Huschke | August 2 2016 | Adult

On sale TODAY, Colson Whitehead’s THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (Doubleday) is the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection, announced Tuesday morning by OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and O, The Oprah Magazine. Mr. Whitehead says, “When I got the call, I let out a stream of loud, joyful expletives – which was awkward because my plane had just landed and everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Oprah has introduced so many wonderful books to people, from The Song of Solomon to The Sound and The Fury, that I’m honored and grateful that The Underground Railroad is joining such great company. You write the best book you can, and hope it finds its way. This is the best kind of sendoff.”

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

HC ISBN: 9780385542364; $26.95; US, Canada, Open Mkt

In his sixth novel, Mr. Whitehead tells the harrowing story of Cora, an indomitable teenage slave and her desperate bid for freedom from an antebellum cotton plantation in Georgia circa 1850. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

The novel has earned starred pre-publication reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal and Booklist. Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times Book Review have named The Underground Railroad as one of the most anticipated books of 2016.

The cross-platform book club selection kicks off with Oprah’s interview with Mr. Whitehead in the September issue of O, The Oprah Magazine (on sale August 9), in which he describes how and why he came up with the idea to make the Underground Railroad an actual train, complete with conductors, stations and tracks. Oprah.com will feature video clips of Oprah speaking with Mr. Whitehead about the book. The Oprah Book Club page on Goodreads will encourage book discussion and sharing.

As readers complete their journey through THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, they can engage online at the Book Club hub (oprah.com/bookclub) and through a variety of digital and social media platforms. Oprah.com will feature a series of original interviews with Winfrey and Whitehead, a reading guide, and Winfrey’s favorite passages from the book.

Readers will also have the opportunity to participate in the book club and answer weekly questions via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A stream of reader tweets (#OprahsBookClub), Facebook posts and Instagram photos from around the world will provide a snapshot of what participants are thinking, feeling and sharing as they read the book together. Whitehead will participate in a book club discussion Q&A on O, The Oprah Magazine’s Facebook page moderated by Leigh Haber, Books Editor, on Wednesday, August 24 at 3:00pm EST.

In June 2012, Oprah Winfrey reintroduced her popular book club as an interactive, multi-platform reading club that harnesses the power of social media, bringing passionate readers together to discuss inspiring stories. After being selected as the club’s inaugural book, WILD by Cheryl Strayed (Knopf) returned to the top of The New York Times bestseller list and spent six consecutive weeks at #1. Other selections include THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking), RUBY by Cynthia Bond (Hogarth) and THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE by Ayana Mathis (Knopf). THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is the club’s fifth selection.

The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah's Book Club)
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. • Now an original Amazon Prime Video series directed by Barry Jenkins. Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates 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 a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.Look for Colson Whitehead’s new novel, Crook Manifesto, coming soon!
$27.95 US
Aug 02, 2016
320 Pages
US, Canada, Open Mkt

The sensational #1 New York Times Bestseller: a powerful, blazingly honest, and inspiring memoir of a young woman, reeling from catastrophe, who hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest trail to break herself down--and build herself back up again.
$18.00 US
Mar 26, 2013
336 Pages
US, Canada, Open Mkt

Ruby (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)
The newest Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection
$16.00 US
Feb 10, 2015
368 Pages
US, Canada, Open Mkt

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
The newest Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection: in this extraordinary debut novel, Ayana Mathis tells the story of the children of the Great Migration through the trials of one unforgettable family.
$18.00 US
Oct 08, 2013
320 Pages
US, Opn Mkt (no CAN)