The Intuitionist: A Novel

3.73 avg rating
( 5,708 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780385493000: The Intuitionist: A Novel

This debut novel by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer.

It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it.  There are two warring factions within the department:  the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects.  

Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department.  But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues.  It's an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist.  But Lila Mae is never wrong.

The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism's founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir.  The notebooks describe Fulton's work on the "black box," a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century.  When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Verticality, architectural and social, is the lofty idea at the heart of Colson Whitehead's odd, sly, and ultimately irresistible first novel. The setting is an unnamed though obviously New Yorkish high-rise city, the time less convincingly future than deliciously other, as it combines 21st-century engineering feats with 19th-century pork-barrel politics and smoky working-class pubs. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical idea, and Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility.

Lila Mae's good ol' boy colleagues in the Department of Elevator Inspectors are understandably jealous of the flawless record that her natural intelligence and diligence have earned, and understandably delighted when Number Eleven in the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial "Intuitionist" method of ascertaining elevator safety. It is, after all, an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the Empiricists would do most anything to discredit the Intuitionist faction. Everyone on both sides assumes that Number Eleven was sabotaged and Lila Mae set up to take the fall. "So complete is Number Eleven's ruin," writes Whitehead, "that there's nothing left but the sound of the crash, rising in the shaft, a fall in opposite: a soul." Lila Mae's doom seems equally irreversible.

Whitehead evokes a world so utterly involving to its own denizens that outside reality does not impinge on its perfect solipsism. We the readers are taken hostage 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. Lila Mae's quest reveals the existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought, whose fate is mysteriously entwined with her own. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the Black Box, the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists will instantly be obsolescent. The social and economic implications are huge and the denouement is elegantly philosophical. Most impressive of all is the integrity of Whitehead's prose. Eschewing mere cleverness, resisting showoff word play, he somehow manages to strike a tone that's always funny, always fierce, and always entirely respectful of his characters and their world. May the god of second novels smile as broadly on him as did the god of firsts. --Joyce Thompson

From the Back Cover:

"The freshest racial allegory since Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye."
--Walter Kirn, Time

"Ingenious and starkly original...Literary reputations may not always rise and fall as predictably as elevators, bit if there's any justice in the world of fiction, Colson Whitehead's should be heaing toward the upper floors."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Magical. . . . The Intuitionist ranks alongside Catch-22, V, The Bluest Eye and other groundbreaking first novels. . . . Whitehead shares Heller's sense of the absurd, Pynchon's operatic expansiveness and Morrison's deconstruction of race and racism." --San Francisco Chronicle

"The most engaging literary sleuthing you'll read this year. . . . What makes the novel so extraordinary is the ways in which Whitehead plays with notions of race."
--Newsweek

"Whitehead's prose is graceful and often lyrical, and his elevator underworld is a complex, lovingly realized creation."
--The New Yorker

"The Intuitionist is the story of a love affair with the steel and stone, machinery and architecture of the city. It's not a pretty love, but a working-class passion for the stench of humanity that its heroine, Lila Mae Watson, has made her own. But as always with love there is betrayal. This extraordinary novel is the first voice in a powerful chorus to come."
--Walter Mosley

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Whitehead, Colson
Published by Anchor
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Anchor. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0385493002. Bookseller Inventory # Z0385493002ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.54
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Whitehead, Colson
Published by Anchor 2000-01-04 (2000)
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New Paperback Quantity Available: 7
Seller:
Ebooksweb COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Anchor 2000-01-04, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Anchor Books ed.. 0385493002. Bookseller Inventory # Z0385493002ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.54
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Whitehead, Colson
Published by Anchor
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Qwestbooks COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Anchor. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0385493002. Bookseller Inventory # Z0385493002ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.54
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Whitehead, Colson
Published by Anchor
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Anchor. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0385493002. Bookseller Inventory # Z0385493002ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.55
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Whitehead, Colson
Published by Anchor
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Vital Products COM LLC
(Southampton, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Anchor. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0385493002. Bookseller Inventory # Z0385493002ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.55
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Whitehead, Colson
Published by Anchor
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Anchor. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0385493002. Bookseller Inventory # Z0385493002ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 9.23
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Whitehead, Colson
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2000. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VR-9780385493000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.30
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Colson Whitehead
Published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States (2005)
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Anchor Books ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. This debut novel by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city s Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it. There are two warring factions within the department: the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects. Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department. But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae s watch, chaos ensues. It s an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist. But Lila Mae is never wrong. The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism s founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir. The notebooks describe Fulton s work on the black box, a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century. When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780385493000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.32
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Whitehead, Colson
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2000. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9780385493000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.66
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Colson Whitehead
Published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States (2005)
ISBN 10: 0385493002 ISBN 13: 9780385493000
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Anchor Books ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. This debut novel by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city s Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it. There are two warring factions within the department: the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects. Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department. But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae s watch, chaos ensues. It s an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist. But Lila Mae is never wrong. The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism s founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir. The notebooks describe Fulton s work on the black box, a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century. When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780385493000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.74
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book