John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 6 Critic Reviews



Colson Whitehead’s eagerly awaited and triumphantly acclaimed new novel is on one level a multifaceted retelling of the story of John Henry, the black steel-driver who died outracing a machine designed to replace him. On another level it’s the story of a disaffected, middle-aged black journalist on a mission to set a record for junketeering who attends the annual John Henry Days festival. It is also a high-velocity thrill ride through the tunnel where American legend gives way to American pop culture, replete with p. r. flacks, stamp collectors, blues men , and turn-of-the-century song pluggers. John Henry Days is an acrobatic, intellectually dazzling, and laugh-out-loud funny book that will be read and talked about for years to come.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Colson Whitehead

See more books from this Author
COLSON WHITEHEAD is the author of the national best seller Sag Harbor and the novels The Intui tionist, John Henry Days, and Apex Hides the Hurt, as well as The Colossus of New York, a collection of essays. A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.
Published May 29, 2009 by Anchor. 402 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for John Henry Days

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Further still, Whitehead spins off riveting stories about John Henry himself, the scholars who traced his legend, and the singers and peddlers who popularized the John Henry ballad.

| Read Full Review of John Henry Days

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

John Henry Days Colson Whitehead 389pp, 4th Estate, £12 The big, polyphonic novel that strives to capture the spirit of a nation or an age can be a hazardous enterprise.

Jun 23 2001 | Read Full Review of John Henry Days

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

and his fellow junketeers—notably Dave Brown, a former gonzo Rolling Stone journalist whose best days were in the late '60s, and jittery One Eye, whose paranoia infects J.—descend on Talcott, W.Va., John Henry's supposed resting ground, to report on the U.S. Postal Service's release of a commemo...

| Read Full Review of John Henry Days

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

And now it's his stamping ground in more ways than one: Coinciding with the release of a commemorative John Henry postage stamp, Talcott is holding its first "John Henry Days" festival, and Sutter is here along with a cast of characterless junketeers — "fellow mercenaries in their covert war agai...

Dec 17 2005 | Read Full Review of John Henry Days

AV Club

See more reviews from this publication

It remains unclear whether Whitehead intended to promote Sutter as the sad antithesis of a black folk hero like John Henry, or whether he sees his protagonist's insignificant and passive quest as a legitimate parallel.

Apr 19 2002 | Read Full Review of John Henry Days

London Review of Books

Whitehead’s new novel, John Henry Days, is longer and more ambitious than The Intuitionist, and the suggestion in its title of mythic black strength and suffering, together with its encyclopedic range, raise epic expectations.

| Read Full Review of John Henry Days

Reader Rating for John Henry Days

An aggregated and normalized score based on 46 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review