Awards
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Best Book (nominee)
Colson Whitehead's second novel posits a folk antihero for the information age: junketeer and puff-piece-writing man J. Sutter. For his latest assignment, this freelance hack is sent to Talcott, West Virginia, to cover its John Henry Days festival and the unveiling of the United States Postal Service's John Henry stamp. Sutter hasn't devoted much thought to American mythology lately, or to the epic struggle of man vs. machine, or to anything else besides padding his expense account and cadging free drinks. Still, our hero is engaged in a private contest of his own--a kind of junket jag, in which he plans to attend a public relations event every single day. Alas, this journalistic obstacle course threatens to eradicate Sutter's soul, just as the folkloric steam shovel eradicated John Henry's body. Whitehead cuts back and forth between eras and exploits. And what begins as a media-saturated satire soon turns into a jazzy, expansive meditation on man, machine, nature, race, history, myth, and pop culture--in short, on America, as expressed through the story of (who else?) a former slave.

Following on the heels of Whitehead's widely praised debut, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days won't disappoint anyone who delighted in the first book's wonderfully quirky writing or its complex allegories of race. The historical set pieces here dazzle, and the author casts a withering eye on our media-driven culture: "Since the days of Gutenberg, an ambient hype wafted the world, throbbing and palpitating. From time to time, some of that material cooled, forming bodies of dense publicity." Still, these brilliant parts don't necessarily add up to a satisfying whole. Whitehead writes the kind of smart, allusive, highly wrought prose that is impressive sentence by sentence. Over the course of 400 pages, though, it can be somewhat daunting. It's a bit like eating a meal in which each of the seven courses comes topped with hollandaise sauce. Worse, some of the characters' motivations remain abstract, as if the author hovered so far above his creations that their foibles struck him as simple absurdities. In a novel of this caliber, of course, much can be forgiven. But one is eager to see Whitehead quit riffing and make an emotional investment in his characters. The result will be fiction that engages the heart as well as the head. --Mary Park


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Used availability for Colson Whitehead's John Henry Days

Hardback Editions

June 2002 : USA Hardback
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Title: John Henry Days: A Novel
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 1-58724-231-1 / 978-1-58724-231-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Wheeler Pub Inc
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


May 2001 : USA Hardback
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 0-385-49819-5 / 978-0-385-49819-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Doubleday
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

January 2002 : UK Paperback
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 1-84115-570-5 / 978-1-84115-570-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


May 2002 : USA Paperback
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 0-385-49820-9 / 978-0-385-49820-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Anchor
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2001 : UK Paperback
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 1-84115-569-1 / 978-1-84115-569-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Audio Editions

April 2008 : USA Audio edition
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon   


April 2008 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon CA   


April 2008 : UK Audio edition
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon UK   


2006 : USA Audio CD
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Title: John Henry Days [UNABRIDGED] (Audiobook)
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 1-4025-8961-1 / 978-1-4025-8961-4 (USA edition)
Publisher:
Availability: Amazon   


2001 : USA Audio Cassette
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 1-4025-0613-9 / 978-1-4025-0613-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon   


2001 : USA Audio CD
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
ISBN: 1-4025-2941-4 / 978-1-4025-2941-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon   


Kindle Editions

March 2014 : UK Kindle edition
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Availability: Amazon UK   


May 2009 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: John Henry Days
Author(s): Colson Whitehead
Publisher: Anchor
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA