An Underground Conversation

A few weeks ago I paid a visit to one of my old haunts, Concord, New Hampshire, to do a joint appearance with the great American novelist Colson Whitehead, whose latest work The Underground Railroad has deservedly earned him great heapings of praise, not to mention a spot on the shortlist for the National Book Award.

My book Underground Airlines is obviously very different (i.e. it’s an alternate-history mystery/thriller), but I feel comfortable saying that the two works share some themes and areas of interest: like The Underground Railroad, Underground Airlines is a book about the Underground Railroad, the history of American slavery, and the connections between that history and contemporary structural racism.


Host Virginia Prescott, Colson Whitehead, and Ben Winters on stage at the Capitol Center for the Arts.

The event was hosted by NHPR, and you can hear our conversation here.

For more on the two books, and other works of American literature that have taken in the extraordinary history of the Underground Railroad, you could (and should!) read this long smart essay by Kathryn Schulz, in the New Yorker. 

For another long, smart essay, try this piece by from Vox about Underground Airlines and one of its most important antecedents, Octavia Butler’s Kindred. 

Meantime, Publisher’s Weekly named Underground Airlines one of the top ten mysteries of 2016; GoodReads nominated it for a GoodReads Choice Award in the sci-fi category; and Hudson Booksellers named it one of the best works of fiction (of any kind) of 2016.


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