Book Beat’s February Reading Group Selection is Oxherding Tale by Charles Johnson. The Reading Group will meet on Wednesday, February 25 at 7:00pm in the Goldfish Teahouse (117 West 4th Street #101, Royal Oak, MI 48067). Reading Group books are discounted 15% at Book Beat. All are welcome!
“A work of courage and compassion, virtuosity and intelligence… Johnson skillfully avoids melodramatic platitudes while creating suspense and comedy, pathos and nostalgia. In the process he invents rich variations on questions about sex, race, and class.” –Village Voice
“If Huckleberry Finn is about an illiterate white child heading downriver, The Oxherding Tale is about a literate black man heading upriver. It’s funny and moving and shocking and everything you want a book to be when you open it.” —Live Journal
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.
“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
Charles Johnson, a 1998 MacArthur fellow, is the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Endowed Professor of English at the University of Washington in Seattle. His fiction includes Dr. King’s Refrigerator, Dreamer, and Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award. In 2002 he received the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Seattle.