John Henry Days

John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead 0385498195 9780385498197
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In a glowing review of Colson Whiteheads first novel,The Intuitionist, theNew York Times Book Reviewconcluded, Literary reputations may not always rise and fall as predictably as elevators, but if theres any justice in the world of fiction, Colson Whiteheads should be heading toward the upper floors. WithJohn Henry Days, Colson Whitehead delivers on the promise of his critically acclaimed debut in a magnificent new novel: a retelling of the legend of John Henry that sweeps across generations and cultures in a stunning, hilarious, and unsettling portrait of American society. Immortalized in folk ballads, John Henry has been a favorite American hero since the mid-nineteenth century. According to legend, John Henry, a black laborer for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, was a man of superhuman strength and stamina. He proved his mettle in a contest with a steam drill, only to die of exhaustion moments after his triumph. InJohn Henry Days, Colson Whitehead transforms the simple ballad into a contrapuntal masterpiece. The narrative revolves around the story of J. Sutter, a young black journalist. Sutter is a junketeer, a freeloading hack who roams from one publicity event to another, abusing his expense account and mooching as much as possible. It is 1996, and an assignment for a travel Web site takes Sutter to West Virginia for the first annual John Henry Days festival, a celebration of a new U.S. postal stamp honoring John Henry. And there the real story of John Henry emerges in graceful counterpoint to Sutters thoroughly modern adventure. As he explores the parallels between the lives of these two black men, and between the Industrial Age, which literally killed John Henry, and the Digital Age that is destroying J. Sutters soul, Whitehead adds multiple dimensions to the myth of the steel-driving man. And in dazzling set pieces, he traces the evolution of the famous ballad over the past century.John Henry Daysis a novel of extraordinary scope and mythic power that juxtaposes history and popular culture, the blatant bigotry of the past with the more insidious racism of the present, and laugh-out-loud humor with unforgettable poignancy.

Author: Colson Whitehead

Language: English

Edition: 1st

Binding: Hardcover

Pages: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 2001-05-15


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