Verticality, architectural and social, is at the heart of Colson Whitehead's first novel that takes place in an unnamed high-rise city that combines twenty-first-century engineering feats with nineteenth-century pork-barrel politics. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical ideal, and Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility. When Number Eleven of the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free-fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial 'Intuitionist' method of ascertaining elevator safety, both Intuitionists and Empiricists recognize the set-up, but may be willing to let Lila Mae take the fall in an election year.
As Lila Mae strives to exonerate herself in this urgent adventure full of government spies, underworld hit men, and seductive double agents, behind the action, always, is the Idea. Lila Mae's quest is mysteriously entwined with existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists may instantly become obsolescent.
The freshest racial allegory since Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (Walter Kirn Time)
Ingenious and starkly original . . . Literary reputations may not always rise and fall as predictably as elevators, bit if there's any justice in the world of fiction, Colson Whitehead's should be heading toward the upper floors (New York Times Book Review)
Magical . . . The Intuitionist ranks alongside Catch-22, V, The Bluest Eye and other groundbreaking first novels . . . Whitehead shares Heller's sense of the absurd, Pynchon's operatic expansiveness and Morrison's deconstruction of race and racism (San Francisco Chronicle)
Whitehead's prose is graceful and often lyrical, and his elevator underworld is a complex, lovingly realized creation (New Yorker)
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
WINNER OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD 2017
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER 2016
AMAZON.COM #1 BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
'Whitehead is on a roll: the reviews have been sublime' Guardian
'Luminous, furious, wildly inventive' Observer
By the author of the international bestseller, The Underground Railroad.
In a dazzlingly original work of non-fiction, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad recreates the exuberance, the chaos, the promise, and the heartbreak of New York. Here is a literary love song that will entrance anyone who has lived in - or spent time - in the greatest of American..