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Posted on Aug 2, 2016 in Announcements

Oprah’s Book Club 2016 Announces Its New Selection: “THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD” By Colson Whitehead

Oprah and Colson Whitehead

Oprah and Colson Whitehead

Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY – OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and O, The Oprah Magazine announces the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday). The Underground Railroad is on-sale today, Tuesday, August 2, 2016, at bookstores, online retailers and wherever books are sold. The Underground Railroad is also available on audio narrated by Bahni Turpin, as well as in large print.

In his sixth novel, 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.

“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,” says Whitehead. “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 cross-platform book club selection kicks off with Oprah’s interview with 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. will feature video clips of Oprah speaking with Colson 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 ( and through a variety of digital and social media platforms. 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.

ABOUT THE BOOK: In The Underground Railroad, Whitehead introduces readers to Cora, a teenage 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 by slave catchers.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and cavernous tunnels, crisscrossing beneath American soil. As Cora travels north, her journey transports her across state lines. And along her way, each state he visits portrays a different “state” of American possibility, showcasing a kaleidoscope of communities across the country – from a white supremacist enclave in North Carolina to an Indiana black separatist encampment.

Drawing structural inspiration from Gulliver’s Travels and stylistic influence from One Hundred Years of Solitude, Whitehead delivers an astonishing and monumental new novel, featuring a breathtaking and vividly-drawn protagonist and plot. Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. Though its central conceit may be imagined and its narrative not strictly historical, the hideous realities of slavery and institutionalized racism at is center are well grounded in documented facts. 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.


ABOUT COLSON WHITEHEAD: Colson Whitehead is the New York Times bestselling author of The Noble HustleZone OneSag HarborThe IntuitionistJohn Henry DaysApex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. A Pulitzer Prize finalist and a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.



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 Best Sellers 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.



Doubleday is an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.  Their parent company is Bertelsmann AG, the international media company.

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