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Understanding freedom through Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for his novel about a young enslaved woman who escapes a Georgia plantation on a literal train to freedom.

On this episode of the Talk of Iowa book club, expert readers discuss the novel The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. In this work of speculative fiction, Whitehead explores themes of enslavement, freedom and greed in a world where the Underground Railroad really was a train.


  • Makeba Lavan, assistant professor department of English, Grinnell College
  • Reverend Ray Dial, retired teacher
  • Tara Bynum, assistant professor of English and African American studies, University of Iowa, author, Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America
  • Abena Sankofa Imhotep, author, executive director, Sankofa Literary and Empowerment Group, Sankofa Literary Academy
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio