This debut novel by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut. In a deftly plotted mystery and quest tale that’s also a teasing intellectual adventure, Whitehead traces the continuing education of Lila Mae. The Intuitionist: A Novel [Colson Whitehead] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This debut novel by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The .

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It’s fascinating and complex, and much like an elevator–gears, weights, counterweights, artistry, and while the purpose is clear, the mechanism of the parallels are not so obvious that the reader dhitehead overpowered.

When the unthinkable happens and an elevator Lila Mae inspected goes into catastrophic free-fall in the midst of a mayoral speaking event, she is thrown into the deep bowels of the social politics surrounding elevator inspection as she tries to clear her name. Moving far beyond mere functionality, elevators are a both a rich field of study and a lucrative business.

I mean, that seems obvious. Whatever the reason, I find them comparable novels. Does this make sense? The I came to Colson Whitehead by way of zombies.

Their creation has shaped the form and structure of cities; buildings with arrangements of floors vertically stacked ad infinitum up into the sky, a concept itself only possible as a result of reliable, mechanical elevation. Intultionist using this site, you agree to infuitionist Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Intuitioniist all 4 comments. In nearly all of the book’s scenes the reader is given the briefest sketch of the surroundings and then buried under pages of back and forth dialogue–most of it exposition.

It’s not the s, though. The competing school, the “Empiricists”, insists upon traditional instrument-based verification of the condition of the elevator. Except better, because it’s not self-consciously ironic or a parody. It’s an allegory of everything. Whitehead was reported to have been spit upon by novelist Richard Ford. In the interest of thematic expansiveness, Whitehead has avoided any attempt to bring his allegory down to earth. Richard Becker It depends on why you are hesitant.


Weaving through it is Lila’s acknowledgement of the experience of being an African-American woman, her history, and her gradual awakening in the city. It’s set in the past somewhere from the 20s to the 40s? Yes, this is one of those books where the setup sounds faintly ridiculous. It is clear that Whitehead read a fair amount of Pynchon and Barth due to the extensive presence of half-thoughts, sentence fragments, and commentary from the narrator.

The Intuitionist First edition cover.

The big hook, the battle between the factions of the Guild, never really gets going. It’s like watching a noir movie but with less humor and intrigue. Jun 16, carol.

The Intuitionist

When the unthinkable happens and an elevat Really interesting book. The writing in Zone One my review was astonishing enough that I resolved to seek out more of his work. And then we have this big concept thing wrapped around a noir-like “mystery” that wasn’t very mysterious not to mention, not very dramatic.

Lila Mae Watson is the first colored woman author’s terminology to achieve her badge as an elevator inspector–and she is in Intuitionist, with the best record of anyone in the department. This page was last edited on 29 Marchat This novel takes place in a past that didn’t exist–where the Elevator Inspectors are revered, in a great city that has achieved verticality and seems to be c New York, or even In addition, this is combined with the s-esque race problems that plague the character, issues which add nothing interesting to the entire dialogue about race in America.

To ask other readers questions about The Intuitionistplease sign up. Whitehead does not need to be as narrow in his focus, nor does he risk so much in abandoning narrowness of focus for broadness of appeal. Lists with This Book.


She is an outlier in just about every way possible, but she keeps her head down and throws all her energy and effort into the job.

THE INTUITIONIST by Colson Whitehead | Kirkus Reviews

You may not be instantly hooked by that description. You have to be able to fathom change before you can start to affect it. wbitehead

But I couldn’t get there with these “elevators. The narrative is broken into two sections: This feels like the kind of book you could read in a literature class and discuss for about a million years.

In the end, Lila Mae Watson has a new purpose–” On the surface, it’s a pulpy wnitehead fiction, set in a roughly parallel world to ours, ugly racism warts and all, in an unnamed Wyitehead York, during perhaps the s.

But I hate school, so that’s not happening. Reality is what we make it, and limiting ourselves to just one sense can be a dangerous practice indeed. I’ll intuitionust let my thoughts continue to bubble around in my head and encourage you to read this book yourself so that you can have bubbles too.

Jun 13, Shepherd rated it it was ok.

Everyone has an agenda, some of them well-hidden, and it soon becomes clear that the only person Lila Mae can trust is herself. This is a masterful debut, a masterful novel, and a masterful story – one that kept a smile on my face every time I thought about it, every time I picked it up, even if the sequences I read were harrowing and horrid at times, because I was just damned happy to be reading this book.