The Intuitionist, The Book

Lila Mae is the anti-heroine of this startling debut by American journalist Colson Whitehead. The first coloured elevator inspector in the city, she is a pupil of the Intuitionist school of thought and is able to tell what is wrong with an elevator through intuitive communication with the machinery. Most of her fellow workers however belong to the Empiricist camp, and prefer to carry out routine conventional inspections. The simmering animosity between the two factions comes to the boil when an elevator that Lila Mae has inspected unexpectedly crashes. Solitary and taciturn Lila Mae suspects a conspiracy, and when rumours start circulating of a lost black box that contains the blueprint of the perfect elevator devised by the founder of Intuitionism and Lila Mae's hero, the late James Fulton, her conviction in the philosophical beliefs of her dead mentor compels her to unearth the truth. The surreality of the plot beguiles the seriousness with which Whitehead treats his underlying themes of racial and gender tension, and the use of the elevator works as a brilliant abstract metaphor for the organisation of society within a metropolis. Whitehead litters his deftly honed prose with pithy observations on everything from the construction of individual identity to philosophical absurdities on the nature of "elevatorness". Its an absolute joy to read, and one of the most original novels to be published in 1998.Read More

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  • 1862072361
  • 9781862072367
  • Colson Whitehead
  • 14 January 1999
  • Granta Books
  • Paperback (Book)
  • 272

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