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Black Oxen

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  109 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
A fabulous, richly peopled, otherworldly tale
"Black Oxen" is the story of Carme Risk's pursuit of her beautiful and not quite human father through two worlds and three changes of identity.In her forties, in the year 2022, Risk has entered narrative therapy. Her memories and her father's journal take her from the Eden of her earliest childhood to dusty, poor Lequama, a Lat
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published July 5th 2001 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published March 2nd 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 07, 2013 Katya rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-heroes
I think it is probably one of the most peculiar books ever written, with it's amnesiac protagonist and parallel worlds and patient and finally electrifying plot ellipses. I've recently reread it. It came out when I was living in New Zealand and Ms Knox had been very successful with her previous book, The Vintner's Luck. The reviewers at the time were vocally aggrieved about how long and complicated this novel was. I'm reading Eleanor Cattons Man Booker shortlisted The Luminaries right now and it ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Mar 31, 2015 Kathleen Dixon rated it it was amazing
After having been a little less enthusiastic about a couple of Knox's books (After Z-hour and Daylight), this one has regained my enthusiasm.

From the beginning, I enjoyed the characters - and I find that matters a great deal to me. I know that I have liked books where I haven't liked even the chief characters, and I'm thinking of a book by McEwan (I think, and it might come to mind if I try not to think of it for a while) where I quite disliked the main protagonist - in fact, if I remember corr
Oct 21, 2012 Uintah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Among my all time favorites, but very difficult to describe. The plot was the most salient feature, although the characters were very real and down-to-earth, in spite of magical elements. It's rare that as I'm finishing the last page I want to start the book all over again, and that's never happened with a 436 page book that's taken me 4 months to read.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this novel. It is a tale steeped in magical realism, telling the story of Carme Risk, her father, and their sprawling, complicated family. In addition to a large cast, the novel also take a highly non-linear approach full of flashbacks. Although I enjoyed the atmosphere of the whole thing, I found it hard to follow. The most interesting aspect was the imaginary Latin American country of Lequama and its revolutionary government steeped in magic. The overlap ...more
Apr 04, 2009 Clarice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-home, 2009
Ok. So... for a large section of this book I was not sure what was going on. The bits of story in it are fairly easy to follow, but the overall shifting of time is a bit odd to figure out. Overall though, it ends up being a rather nice tale as a whole. I enjoyed all of it really. And some of the lines in it are so gorgeous it's hard to not want to reread them over and over again.
Leah Fitzgerald
Aug 27, 2014 Leah Fitzgerald rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Enchanting and startling read.
Katie M.
Oct 29, 2015 Katie M. rated it really liked it
Update: I finally reread this and I think I have to bump it up to 4 stars. I just do. It's still problematic in all the same ways, but it's really kind of a masterpiece. It drives me crazy and I also love it a lot, and I feel like if that's not the hallmark of a slightly brilliant book I have no idea what is.


I can never decide how I feel about Elizabeth Knox. Her stories are fascinating, but her dense prose ranges from compelling to dry and back again, and it can be ex
Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2009
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Oct 07, 2012
Lis Cassey
Lis Cassey rated it it was amazing
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Joey Diamond
Joey Diamond rated it it was amazing
Jul 10, 2009
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Jan 15, 2016 Chhavi rated it really liked it
Shelves: boston
this was confusing but mesmerizing.
Silas rated it it was amazing
Aug 17, 2013
Mike rated it it was ok
Jan 29, 2016
Will rated it it was amazing
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Esther rated it it was ok
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Laura rated it really liked it
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Elizabeth Knox was born in Wellington‚ New Zealand‚ and is the author of eleven novels and three novella and a book of essays.

More about Elizabeth Knox...

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“Children are uncivilized, so have a staggering power to harm, especially those people whose hearts need mending. In that house an unhappy child was too much rain on a high water table. I poured it on and the terrain liquefied.” 4 likes
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