The Underground Railroad misses out on Booker Prize


by Pete Richmond

When the Booker Prize shortlist was announced yesterday a Zealot Script favourite was missing. Unfortunately for author Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad has missed out on scooping the most prestigious literary prize of them all.

We’re sure that Colson is not too disheartened as he can console himself with the fact that he has already been awarded 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature. Not a bad collection of honours.

Still in the running for the Booker Prize are the following:

4 3 2 1 – Paul Auster
History of Wolves – Emily Fridlund
Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
Elmet – Fiona Mozley
Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
Autumn – Ali Smith

Out of the remaining contenders, we’d like to draw attention to Lincoln in the Bardo, described as:

a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented

Saunders, George - Lincoln in the Bardo

The tale centers around Lincoln’s son Willie, after his death. That’s right, parts of the story are based in the afterlife. An intriguing read, and in case any fans of The Underground Railroad aren’t yet convinced, Whitehead himself said this about the book:

It’s a very pleasing thing to watch a writer you have enjoyed for years reach an even higher level of achievement. To observe him or her consolidate strengths, share with us new reserves of talent and provide the inspiration that can only come from a true artist charting hidden creative territory. George Saunders pulled that trick off with “Tenth of December,” his 2013 book of short stories. How gratifying and unexpected that he has repeated the feat with “Lincoln in the Bardo,” his first novel and a luminous feat of generosity and humanism.

Convinced yet? We are.

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