Dave's Reviews > The Intuitionist

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
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's review
Apr 25, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2009

Whitehead is a supremely talented and intelligent writer who suffers from critics' superficial comparisons of him to great authors of the past. Whitehead is his own man. The book jacket proudly proclaims a new author "in the tradition of Ralph Ellison", but the only connection I see is that, like Ellison, Whitehead writes about an urban black experience and can write about it well. If that is the tradition of Ellison, Whitehead has a lot of contemporaries.
But, like I said, that view of his work is too limiting. This work would deserve five stars independent of any predecessor if it hadn't been for a roughly hewn resolution. Ironically, though the storytelling suffers, Whitehead's intelligence shines through, and the reader who courageously slogs through to the end benefits from Whitehead's powerful defamation of decontextualized postmodernism.
The rest of the novel is written beautifully, on par with Michael Ondaatje and Anne Michaels, and even someone as spatial reasoningly challenged as myself could sit in awe of Whitehead's fearless technical jargon as he made elevators into art.
A good read for anyone interested in contemporary African American, urban, or technological fiction.

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