content by

Meg Elison

Magnificent Labor: The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is the kind of book I want to shove into people’s hands like an overzealous missionary. I can talk anybody into it, because it’s a book like a diamond: view it through any facet you like and fall slack-jawed at what you see.

Read it one way and it’s a stunning literary work, suitable for academic discussion, shortlisted for the National Book Award. Present it to a true-blue science fiction fan and it’s Philip K. Dick and Octavia Butler’s love child with prose that’ll stop their pulpy heart. Tell a horror reader that it builds dread like a Stephen King classic. Throw on top of that an incredibly skillful first-person narration by a female character handled deftly and authentically by a male writer and you may as well start warming up the baptismal font; the reader is going to convert.

[This isn’t exactly a surprise…]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing