John Henry Days

Colson Whitehead

Building the railways that made America, John Henry died with a hammer in his hand moments after competing against a steam drill in a battle of endurance. The story of his death made him a legend. Over a century later, J. Sutter, a freelance journalist and accomplished expense account abuser, is sent to West Virginia to cover the launch of a new postage stamp at the first ‘John Henry Days’ festival. John Henry Days is a riveting portrait of America. Through a patchwork of interweaving histories Colson Whitehead triumphantly reveals how a nation creates its present through the stories it tells of its past.

Reviews of John Henry Days

  • ‘Blithely gifted…an ambitious, finely chiselled work.’ John Updike

    ‘ Hugely talented…Colson Whitehead has produced an immensely rich, many stranded novel. The writing is inspired on every page. Just Wonderful! One of my books of the year.’ Time Out

    ‘Such is the buoyancy of his talent, and the protean assuredness of his prose, that the result is controlled, poignant, wittily observed and often gleefully comic.’ Guardian

    ‘Colson Whitehead’s dazzling second novel…It may be nothing new to suggest that history is fiction; but the pleasure of reading this ingenious patchwork lies in how it reminds us of the vitality of those fictions.’ Independent on Sunday

    ‘”John Henry Days” is funny and wise and sumptuously written.’ New York Times

    ‘Witty, acerbic and immensely compelling…fresh and evocative…Whitehead is a first-rate writer who has produced a novel that is compelling’. Financial Times