Colson Whitehead’s acclaimed literary novel The Underground Railroad has been awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.he book envisions a past where the Underground Railroad was a literal railroad, operated by engineers and conductors, that transported slaves to freedom. The novel follows an enslaved teenager named Cora, who braves a harrowing journey aboard the train.The book won the 2016 National Book Award and was named an Oprah’s Book Club pick.Last year, post-vacation, President Obama gave the book a boost, saying Americans should read it. If Whitehead is breaking out the champagne, who can blame him?According to publisher Doubleday, The Underground Railroad has sold more than 825,000 copies in the USA. It peaked at No. 6 on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list on Aug. 18.The novel mixes harsh reality — slavery in the antebellum South — with a vividly imagined alternative world, one in which the Underground Railroad is a literal subterranean network of tracks and stations.Whitehead’s heroine is a headstrong teenage runaway slave named Cora, who escapes a brutal cotton plantation and tries to find her way to freedom.