The Intuitionist

The Intuitionist

by Colson Whitehead
3.7 11


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The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. This marvellously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected novel, set in the curious world of elevator inspection, portrays a universe parallel to our own, where matters of morality, politics, and race reveal unexpected ironies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385492997
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/29/1998
Pages: 255
Product dimensions: 5.87(w) x 8.64(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

Colson Whitehead is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad. His other works include The Noble HustleZone OneSag HarborThe IntuitionistJohn Henry DaysApex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. A National Book Award winner and a recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.


Brooklyn, NY

Date of Birth:

November 6, 1969

Place of Birth:

New York, NY


Harvard College, BA in English & American Literature

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The Intuitionist 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed the parts of this book that discussed elevator theory (I have never before thought so much about an elevator). Having read this book I would really love to get a tour of the inner workings of an elevator. The ending, however, was not very satisfying and the book took a disappointing twist from theory and politics to mystery.
MrRaymond More than 1 year ago
Brilliant story, very well written. I never imagined elevator inspections could be such fertile territory. But I guess anything can be in the hands of an inventive writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NY_Reader1 More than 1 year ago
My local B&N didn't have any of Whitehead's books in stock, so I had to get this from the library. I was curious after Esquire magazine all but sainted the guy. I'm about halfway through, and it's not bad. Not great, but not bad. To be frank, it's not worth the praise that's been heaped on it, and I suspect the author is garnering a lot of this because he's a young, good looking African-American author. There's a million great books out there by great unknown authors and Mr. Whitehead's work is on par with a lot of those. Not better or worse. I think this is one of those authors that the Starbuck's crowd likes to be seen reading. "Oh, you're reading Colson Whitehead? How's your mocca-latte-frappawhatever?" Read it because it's a decent book written about (of all things) elevator inspectors, but enjoy it because it manages to go deeper than that, and who doesn't wonder about those sorts of things?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well written but it wasn't one of those books that you just couldn't put down. Sections of the book were funny, but they were few and far inbetween. However, I do believe this book makes a good 'group discussion' book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The reviews make this out like a present-day Invisible Man...I don't see it. The allegory seems heavy-handed and obvious, yet in the end still doesn't lead to any meaningful message. As a novel, it also just isn't very likable. Lila Mae, the supposed 'intutitionist', is so cold and cerebral that it is difficult to feel any empathy with her. The plot is convoluted and poorly explained, and the rhythmic language is annoying, not evocative.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Starts out tough but promising - the middle verges on brilliance - ends with a depressing fizzle. Oh, this book was on track to really SAY something. What could have been a unique and much-discussed commentary on human nature & spirituality was just another novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Colson Whitehead is one a few young writers out there that provides hope for America's literary future. The Intuitionist is wise and quirky and humorous, all while also providing a skewed look at race and gender in America. Yes, there's a little bit of Raplh Ellison in him, except Whitehead has a better since of humor. And yes, there's a little bit of Don Dellilo in him, but Whitehead is fresher, less pretensious. There may even be a little bit of Tony Morrison in his writing, although this young author seems calm in his approach. He's not trying to live up to these comparisons. He's just doing it by producing original, interesting writing. Man, if only more young authors had as much genuine talent. Get this book. Whether you love it or not you'll know you're in the presence of a new voice that'll last.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit that I have sometimes wondered, while waiting to reach my floor, about the elevator inspectors, that list of signatures and dates that is supposed to assure us that we won't plunge to our deaths. Colson Whitehead's first novel, The Intuitionist, is about these folks, in a sort of alternate City where elevators are indeed big business, with lobbyists and billboards and everything. The inspector in question is Lila Mae Watson, the city's first female, and second black, inspector. At the beginning she's framed for an elevator accident -- not only because she's a minority, but also because she's an Intuitionist. The department, and the industry, is split by a struggle between the Empricisits, who examine elevators, and the Intuitionists, who, well, intuit what's wrong. Funny thing is, the Intuitionists have a higher accuracy rate. If this sounds like a heavy handed allegory, it's not. Whitehead plays with the intersections of race, gender, and rationalism, and this is definitely a book that's about more than it's about. But The Intuitionist reads like a noir novel, if Sam Spade were given to mystical ruminations on elevators. It's both thoughtful and a good read: what more do you want from a first novel?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't believe nobody else has reviewed this yet -- perhaps because of the slightly lower status of this website as a bookstore -- but this book is simultaneously funny and tragic, human and fantastical, satisfying and yet leaving the reader wanting more. Colson Whitehead is poised to become one of the finest and most celebrated young authors in America. Wake up, people.