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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Richard Becker It depends on why you are hesitant. I loved this book. Sep 27, Christy rated it really liked it Shelves: Three and a half stars, rounding up because this author can write. I’m dealing with serious race issues, but I’m not handling them in a way that people expect.

Lists with This Book. The surface plot is interesting–there are, after all, secret societies, company cars, a muck-raking newspaperman, gangsters and potential lovers. A peculiar halting noir with two main features.

The Intuitionist

There are flashes of personality beneath the blankness, but not many. 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. The copy on the back cover does its best whihehead make the story and tone of the book sound extra weird, while at the same time remaining fairly vague.

The elevator is at the morgue, and Watson was the last to inspect it. There is a conflict between the two main ‘schools’ of elevator inspection theory The Empiricists and the Intuitionists.

The Intuitionist – Wikipedia

It definitely piques my interest in the rest of the Whitehead cannon. Except better, because it’s not self-consciously ironic or a parody.

To see what your friends thought of this whiteehad, please sign up. If the former, it’s muddled. Sep 22, A. Trivia About The Intuitionist.


Lila Mae whutehead rather dispassionate and all of the other characters are more or less shells, which don’t provide for much compassion from a reader’s point of view. Couple this with the double standards governing white America and black America, men and women, and it becomes poetic.


You have to be able to fathom change before you can start to affect it. 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.

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. 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 listening to maudlin elevator music. The Intuitionist was my pick for a tandem read with my wife. The fundamental premise has an absurdity to it that I normally respond to, and there are sections of prose that truly elevated ha the thing to 4-star levels.

You may not be instantly hooked by that description. Still, I liked it. But I couldn’t get there with these “elevators. Everything centers around the elevator inspectors, their upcoming guild election, and the corruption inherent in the organization with ties to organized crime and pork-barrel whiteuead.

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. I’m interested to see if Whitehead’s later novels rebound, but based on this one I’m not rushing out to get them. You might even think it sounds dull. Retrieved from ” https: Bleak as it was, the imagery in Zone was mesmerizing and intricate.


Empiricism and Intuitionism are never well enough defined to feel like anything more than Group A and Group B–it could have been Liberals vs. Bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia all trot across the stage in believable fashion.

In this world, we are introduced to Lila Mae – an excellent elevator inspector, an Intuitionist, brilliant and passionate about her field, wbitehead a trailblazer – the first black woman to become an Inspector in an overwhelmingly white boys’ club. The racial component plays a crucial role as well using elevators as a metaphor for racial upward mobility.

In the end, Lila Mae Watson has a new purpose–” It actually reminded me of my fave book ever, Thomas Pynchon’s Vinelandbut without the wackiness.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

At the same time, she is searching for the missing notebooks of the father of elevator theory, James Fulton, who it is surmised has drafted a design for the theoretically perfect elevator, known as the “black box”. Verticality, architectural and social, is whitfhead 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 story is one of mid-twentieth century type bigotry set in a Steampunk-like world where there are two battling philosophies on the nature and function of elevators, the Empiricists and the Intuitionists.

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