Rutgers Reads: The Underground Railroad

Friday, August 31, 2018
through Sunday, October 14, 2018
Robeson Library


John Powell

Rutgers Reads: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is on display at the Paul Robeson Library now through October 14, 2018.

The 2018 selection for Rutgers Reads is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. A New York Times bestseller, The Underground Railroad won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, the National Book Award, and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. As described by publisher Penguin Random House, the book follows Cora, a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia who joins Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, on the Underground Railroad.

In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange-yet-familiar iterations of her own world at each stop. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman’s will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Rutgers Reads provides incoming first-year students with a shared, intellectually engaging experience and serves as an introduction to academic life at Rutgers University–Camden. Each year, a small committee convenes to discuss and decide on a selection, which is then incorporated into the English and writing curriculum for all first-year undergraduate students. The Office of New Student Programs provides these incoming students with a copy of the Rutgers Reads book before they begin their first semester at Rutgers University–Camden.

Robeson Library