Oxherding tale

by Charles Richard Johnson

Paper Book, 1995




New York : Plume, c1995.


One night in the antebellum South, a slave owner and his African-American butler stay up to all hours until, too drunk to face their wives, they switch places in each other's beds. The result is a hilarious imbroglio and an offspring -- Andrew Hawkins, whose life becomes Oxherding Tale. Through sexual escapades, picaresque adventures, and philosophical inquiry, Hawkins navigates white and black worlds and comments wryly on human nature along the way. Told with pure genius, Oxherding Tale is a deliciously funny, bitterly ironic account of slavery, racism, and the human spirit; and it reveals the author as a great talent with even greater humanity.

User reviews

LibraryThing member sarsbar
This book was strange--humorous and sobering, sometimes even in the same scene. It was hard to tell where the story was going sometimes, but in an entirely good way; I guess what I'm trying to say is that the story was unpredictable. The author sometimes lingers on philosophical subjects, leaving
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the story behind for a page or a chapter before returning. I can see some people complaining about this, though I don't understand why they would when Mr. Johnson makes it feel so natural.

Oh--and I should mention that this book has one of the most satisfying and beautiful endings in my opinion. I actually cried tears of relief when I finished the last page. Good stuff. Read it if you're ready for some good contemporary literature.
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