John Henry Days

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John Henry Days
Colson Whitehead JohnHenryDays.jpg
First edition cover
Author Colson Whitehead
Country United States
Language English
Genre Historical fiction, Novel
Publisher Doubleday (HB) & Anchor Books (PB)
Publication date
May 15, 2001
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 400 pp (hardback edition)
ISBN 0-385-49819-5
Preceded by The Intuitionist
Followed by The Colossus of New York

John Henry Days is a 2001 novel by American author Colson Whitehead. This is his second full-size work.

Plot summary[edit]

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, freelance journalist J. Sutter is sent to West Virginia to cover the launch of a new postage stamp at the first John Henry Days festival.


Maya Jaggi, writing for The Guardian, praised John Henry Days, writing that it is "propelled by the quality of the writing and observation which, together with his serious intent, elevate it above frothier social satire."[1] Writing in The New York Times, novelist Jonathan Franzen likened the novel to Ulysses and Moby-Dick in its "encyclopedic aspirations", but added: "John Henry Days is funny and wise and sumptuously written, but it's only rarely a page turner."[2]



  1. ^ Maya Jaggi (2001) "Railroad blues" John Henry Days review, The Guardian. Published 23 June, 2001. Archived from here on 28 November, 2017.
  2. ^ Jonathan Franzen (2001) "Freeloading Man" John Henry Days review, The New York Times. Published 13 May, 2001. Archived from here on 28 November, 2017.
  3. ^ "2002 Pulitzer Prizes" Pulitzer Prizes official website. Accessed 23 November 2016.
  4. ^ List of past winners at the ALA Black Caucus site Archived 2006-04-26 at the Library of Congress Web Archives

External links[edit]