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From the Publisher
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.
A dead-serious and seriously funny feat of the imagination,
The Intuitionist is a brilliant debut by an
exceptional young talent. Its sidesplitting humor is
accompanied by a sobering examination of race--how it causes people
to act and what it causes them to believe about themselves and
others. In the tradition of Ralph Ellison, Colson
Whitehead artfully crosses back and forth over racial, political,
and artistic borders to create a work of stunning
depth, soulfulness, and originality, starring one of the
most intriguing heroines in contemporary fiction.