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The Cattle Killing

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  115 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
A major literary event by" one of America's premier writers of fiction" (New York Times) and two-time winner of the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award, The Cattle Killing, John Edgar Wideman's first novel in six years, is certain to galvanize national attention. It is a fiercely lyrical, passionate, and revealing novel that attempts to reconfigure the paradigm of race. Spannin ...more
Hardcover, 212 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1996)
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Sep 10, 2008 Qiana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I give up. I can't get through Wideman's novel. All the right ingredients are here - the stream of consciousness writing, the postmodern narrative within a narrative, black suffering and religious faith, slavery and an African past... But I'm not hooked. Plus I owe so many overdue fines on the novel at this point...
Would someone who gave this book 4 or 5 stars please explain it -- or why -- to me? I feel like I'm missing something, but not really. I don't ever expect to understand Wideman's work completely when I read it, but what I have been so moved by in the past was the intensely personal way he writes. I mean, I loved Philadelphia Fire mainly because of the parts where it seemed to be Wideman talking. It is as though the backdrops of his novels -- the house firebombing, the Xhosa cattle killing, the y ...more
Carl R.
May 07, 2012 Carl R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometime in the eighteenth century, the Xhosa people of South Africa followed the advice of an early-day intelligence report--an oracle--and began destroying their cattle in the belief that the slaughter would help them avoid European domination. The killing of their number one means of sustenance proved even more self-destructive than our own flocking to follow pied pipers Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush. At least so far.
Richard Wideman’s The Cattle Killing uses this historical event as a metapho
I discovered a whole cache of this guy's books at Caliban Books (amazing book store) in Pittsburgh. He's from there. I kept reading the descriptions on the books and knew instantly I had found a new beloved author. I wanted to buy all of the books, but I only bought one, for both financial purposes and because I hadn't actually read any of his work yet.

Turns out this book was infuriating. People love him, so I can only chalk up my misery while reading this book to being dumb. I didn't understand
Paige Sweet
A dream-like narrative woven of memory and history across time, connecting American slavery, the Xhosa Cattle Killing, and an itinerant storytelling man. The creative incorporation of the Xhosa Cattle Killing was especially impressive, and it makes one wonder how Zakes Mda's The Heart of Redness (probably the best known fictional account of the Cattle Killing) might have taken greater literary license with historical accounts.
Chrystal Hays
Aug 17, 2014 Chrystal Hays rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine book, which reminds me of the style of Henry Miller in some ways...shifting, flowing, not keenly organized. It's almost poetry in places, and it touches and lays bare some festering wounds in our society.

It's a good read, but one has to rise above the complete and total lack of the use of question marks and other stylistic liberties.
Bill Gordon
Nov 02, 2009 Bill Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nobody writes like Wideman. He's a master. If I had to compare him to another writer it would probably be Cormac McCarthy but even that's a stretch. If you want to read something mind-expanding then read either "The Cattle Killing" or "Philadelphia Fire," the two Wideman I've read. He's completely unique and very compelling.
May 04, 2007 henry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction
first read this in college and have come back to it several times. one of the greatest pieces of fiction i've ever read.
Aug 05, 2008 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i didn't really "get" it....
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A widely-celebrated writer and the winner of many literary awards, he is the first to win the International PEN/Faulkner Award twice: in 1984 for Sent for You Yesterday and in 1990 for Philadelphia Fire. In 2000 he won the O. Henry Award for his short story "Weight", published in The Callaloo Journal.

In March, 2010, he self-published "Briefs," a new collection of microstories, on Stories
More about John Edgar Wideman...

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