From National Book Award–winning author, Charles Johnson, comes a wonderful mythic novel, part slave narrative, part comedy, part myth—first published in 1982 this phenomenally imaginative work marries Johnson's knowledge of philosophy, religion, race and history.
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, OxherdingTale 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.
Charles Johnson is a novelist, essayist, literary scholar, philosopher, cartoonist, screenwriter, and professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle. A MacArthur fellow, his fiction includes Night Hawks, Dr. King’s Refrigerator, Dreamer, Faith and the Good Thing, and Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award. In 2002 he received the Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Seattle.
"A work of courage and compassion, virtuosity and intelligence." -- The Village Voice
"I laughed. I cried. I thought. I marveled. Oxherding Tale is a beautiful book. Its language is extraordinary, its writing is crisp, clean, smooth, even in its complexity, and terribly affecting. It is masterful craft of the highest order." -- August Wilson
"A wonderfully funny, erotic, bittersweet story....Johnson presents a fable about racial difference and...[he] doesn't make light of the load, but makes the burden of its telling sweeter with Dickensian twists of plot and with outrageous characters. -- Chicago Sun-Times