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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Every single “minor” character is memorable. In particular, the allegory seemed to be interpretable is that a word? It hasn’t coalesced for me yet. The characters are similarly flat, particularly the heroine, Lila Mae Watson. May 29, Sara rated it it was amazing.

The Ascent of Man

Everyone wants to get their hands on those papers! I was dazzled by its headiness. But even then, it’s still fun to read. It’s about race, yes, sure, or so we’re told.

I can’t think of too many other authors who take such joy in storytelling and I’m glad to see that it’s been true of Colson’s work from the very beginning. Not that this novel has the weight or import of that classic, but I experienced a confusion with each that seemed somehow tied to both my white privilege not that we called it that back when I was an undergrad and my almost complete lack of experience with urban life.

We read it in a single day, one which left us bruised from all the cliches and the noir tropes which were further wrinkled with the riddle of race. I assume all of them were his own creation and for that alone this book is worth reading. You just have to understand why they do that.


To clear her name, she will have to both navigate a hostile world and delve deeper into the hidden secrets of the history of elevator inspection. I’m glad I read it, but it’s one of the most perplexing books I’ve ever read.

The copy on the back cover does its best to make the story and tone of the book sound extra weird, while at the same time remaining fairly vague. The Intuitionist First edition cover. I’m planning to read it again so that can really piece it all together.


Moving far beyond mere functionality, elevators are a both a rich field of study and a lucrative business.

The Intuitionist

I don’t know if enough people have read Vineland for tha So dense that I had to take breaks to rest my brain, and so good that I almost want to take a college lit class where it’s on the syllabus so I can hear people say smart things about it.

Cross posted at http: When it doesn’t, which for me was most of the intjitionist, it is pages about elevators. Colson Whitehead’s writing is just gorgeous, and the intricate combination of social commentary, philosophy and technology woven through the story means, I believe, that this book would appeal hwitehead to fans of steampunk and cyberpunk – it’s doing a lot of the same things, just in a different era. On the surface, it’s a pulpy noir fiction, set in a roughly parallel world to ours, ugly racism warts and all, in an unnamed New York, during perhaps the s.

Almost every corner of the novel mirrors, and folds on itself. As well as a noir mystery, this book also alludes to the varying black experience in white America. Unique and intriguing, but also wordy. Whitehead’s strategy is a brilliant one, the kind of idea that must have struck him at an odd moment, like in the dentist’s chair or while listen There’s a rich strain of American literature dealing with this nation’s original sin, slavery and its residue.

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.

Lila Mae’s quest is mysteriously entwined with existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, intuitionixt giant of vertical thought. The Intuitionists practice an inspecting method by which they ride in an elevator and intuit the state of the elevator and its related systems. Bleak as it was, the imagery in Zone was mesmerizing and intricate.

There are corporate rivalries and espionage. She is also the first black woman to pass the tests and be accepted into the seedy white-guy ranks of the Department of Elevator Inspectors. It is an election year, the the Intuitionist inspect and diagnose elevators by feel and intuition and Empirical inspect and diagnose by-the-book, with intense physical inspection candidates for Guild of Elevator Inspectors Chair are Chancre hooked up with the mob and Lever the academic Intuitionist.


In the interest of thematic expansiveness, Whitehead has avoided any attempt to bring his allegory down to earth. I admire this in the same way I do an elegant five-course meal, but what I was looking for was more mac-and-cheese. It’s commentary on race is sloppy, and the writing puts me to sleep. Quotes from The Intuitionist. Now I think there are a lot more of us writing and a lot more different areas we’re exploring.

The time period is as murky as the setting; the elevator technology is highly developed, but the inspectors have typewriters on their desks. Views Read Edit View history.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Yes, Intuiitionist must solve a mystery, and the mystery pulls the reader along nicely from intro to outro. The time, never identified explicitly, is one when black people are called “colored” and integration is a current topic. Perhaps it’s because Lila Mae is somewhat disenfranchised from herself–as she goes through her life one step removed, I found I remained somewhat removed as well. Dogs have been known to follow him, optimistic.

Of course, I say it might be broken down this way because this analysis doesn’t really capture the essence of what is achieved. It’s part noir-ish mystery, part speculative fiction. The location is difficult to pin down. The story holds, Lila Mae is sufficiently developed beyond allegory, the city is intuitiionist of rich detail, the puzzle of the elevator guild interesting and the possible blueprint alluring.

And there is the mystical philosophy of Theoretical Elevators. The story begins with the catastrophic failure of an elevator which Watson had inspected just days before, leading to suspicion cast upon both herself and the Intuitionist school as a whole.