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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Suffice it to say there are several layers to this elevator-as-metaphor aspect, and they have a unique dialogue with one another. 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.

Colson’s elevator world is full of suspense and intrigue. The time period is as murky as the setting; the elevator technology is highly wjitehead, but the inspectors have typewriters on their desks. Sep 22, A. She is also a detective trying to discover who committed a heinous murder the victim: You may not be instantly hooked by that description.

Richard Becker It depends on why you are hesitant.

What I wouldn’t give to pick this book up in and get in on the ground floor, as it were, of Colson Whitehead. It’s not too important or anything. I came to Colson Whitehead by way of zombies. I very much agree with NY Times reviewer Gary Krist when he says, “Ultimately, I’m not sure Whitehead is in full control of the many thematic elements he has unleashed in this dense and sometimes difficult book.

A new elevator–the fabled black box–would do the same. I really want to like this book.


Reading this reminded me a bit of being a white girl from a small town of mostly white people reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man during my early undergrad years.


I’ll just 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. In this world, we are introduced to Lila Mae – an excellent elevator inspector, an Intuitionist, brilliant and passionate about her field, and a trailblazer – the first black woman to become an Inspector in an overwhelmingly white boys’ club.

I plan to reread this novel to see what I missed the first time. Lists with This Book. When this works, this book is thrilling.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead | : Books

But, as Whitehead goes on to point out in the Salon. I don’t particularly like any of the characters. This world of elevators and elevator inspectors has been lifted pun whitehaed up to a level of prominence rivaling special police forces in large cities.

This world is exactly like ours, except that elevators are a big, big deal. Maybe this is the idea, but the concept of Intuitionism is one of the big draws of the novel and since it is never explored in any meaningful way I felt very let down.

James Fulton developed the theory of Intuition, the discipline of inspecting an elevator by analyzing one’s experience of it. The protagonist is Lila Mae Watson, an elevator inspector of the “Intuitionist” school. Her search leads her to search for Fulton’s black box the father of Intuitionism and his perfect elevatorand to find secrets in Fulton’s past, an investigative journalist, the mob, and a variety of characters. 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.

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. This isn’t just an allegory of race, as the many glowing reviews in the prefatory pages state. Want to Read saving…. Couple this with the double standards governing white America and black America, men and women, and it becomes poetic.


Unsurprisingly, her coworkers, overwhelmingly white and male, don’t exactly roll out the red carpet when she joins their ranks, especially because she is of the new and controversial Intuitionist school of elevator inspecting. See 1 question about The Intuitionist…. The ascending and descending elevators, teasingly align with both the race and philosophy axes, giving plenty of opportunities for the philosophically inclined reader to ponder the implications. Throughout the story Colson has woven philosophical discussions about how we know what we know couched in the elevator inspector’s world of the intuitionists vs.

Three and a half stars, rounding up because this author can write.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

I don’t know if enough people have read Vineland for that to be helpful in any way. The Intuitionist is Whitehead’s first published work.

Posted at Heradas Review The time period is difficult to pin down. Feb 11, Mark rated it liked it Shelves: Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical ideal, and Lila Mae Watson, the city’s first black female elevator inspector, is Verticality, architectural and social, is the lofty idea at the heart of Colson Whitehead’s first novel that takes place in an unnamed high-rise city that combines 21st-century engineering feats with 19th-century pork-barrel politics.

The Intuitionist

In the course of her search, she discovers the central idea of the founder of Intuitionism — that of the “black box”, iintuitionist perfect elevator, which will deliver the people to the city of the future.

View all 20 comments. You might even think it sounds dull. The competing school, the “Empiricists”, insists upon traditional instrument-based verification of the condition of the elevator.

May 29, Sara rated it it was amazing.

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