John Henry Days

Colson Whitehead

‘John Henry Days’ is a novel of extraordinary scope and mythic power. Recognised as one of the novels of 2001, it establishes Colson Whitehead as one of the pre-eminent young American writers of our time.

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