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John Henry Days
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Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date May 1, 2001
Pages 389
Binding Hardcover
Book category Adult Fiction
ISBN-13 9780385498197
ISBN-10 0385498195
Dimensions 1.25 by 6.25 by 9.50 in.
Weight 1.45 lbs.
Availability§ Publisher Out of Stock Indefinitely
Original list price $24.95
§As reported by publisher
Summaries and Reviews
Summary
On assignment for a travel Web site, J. Sutter, a young African-American freelance journalist, heads for West Virginia to cover the 'John Henry Days' festival in honor of the new U.S. postage stamp honoring John Henry and discovers the real-life story of John Henry and its relevance to his own life and times. By the author of The Intuitionist. 35,000 first printing. (view table of contents)
Amazon.com description: Product Description: In a glowing review of Colson Whitehead's first novel, The Intuitionist, the New York Times Book Review concluded, "Literary reputations may not always rise and fall as predictably as elevators, but if there's any justice in the world of fiction, Colson Whitehead's should be heading toward the upper floors." With John 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.

In John 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 Sutter's 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. Sutter's 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 Days is 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.

Editions
Hardcover
Book cover for 9780385498197
 
The price comparison is for this edition
from Doubleday (May 1, 2001)
9780385498197 | details & prices | 389 pages | 6.25 × 9.50 × 1.25 in. | 1.45 lbs | List price $24.95
About: An assignment for a travel Web site takes J.
Paperback
Book cover for 9780385498203 Book cover for 9781841155708
 
New edition from Harpercollins Pub Ltd (June 5, 2002)
9781841155708 | details & prices | 400 pages | 5.25 × 7.75 × 1.00 in. | 0.65 lbs | List price $10.80
About: This novel is set around the first John Henry Days festival which marks the launch of a stamp commemorating John Henry.
Reprint edition from Anchor Books (May 1, 2002)
9780385498203 | details & prices | 5.25 × 8.00 × 0.75 in. | 0.60 lbs | List price $15.95
About: On assignment for a travel Web site, J.

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