The Intuitionist: A Novel

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The Vertical Legacy of Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Intuitionist’

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At Ploughshares, Neil Serven looks back on Colson Whitehead’s debut novel, The Intuitionist, which follows Lila Mae Watson, an elevator inspector in an unnamed city full of skyscrapers in need of vertical transportation. “The world of The Intuitionist is similarly one of darkness and corruption, and the anonymity within manages to turn it darker and Lila Mae’s journey lonelier. […] Lila Mae’s way of speaking is wary, compressed with impatience, as though not wanting to give anything away to the personalities she must navigate. This is survival. Over twenty years after its initial publication, The Intuitionist’s message remains relevant: it’s a wise critique of ambition and ‘progress’ and the dark spaces that exist in the in-between.”

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