Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson photo

Charles Johnson was Voted the #48 Favorite Author of the 20th Century

Charles Richard Johnson is a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and cartoonist. Johnson, whose balance of philosophy and folklore has been praised since the publication of his first novel in 1974, gained prominence. When his novel Middle Passage won the National Book Award in 1989.   Like his other works of fiction, Middle Passage embodies Johnson’s controversial version of black literature, defined in his Being and Race:  Black Writing since 1970 (1988) as "a fiction of increasing artistic and intellectual growth, one that enables us as a people-as a culture-to move from narrow complaint to broad celebration."

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Johnson began his career as a cartoonist.  Under the tutelage of cartoonist Lawrence Lariar, he saw his work published by the time he was seventeen years old. His two collections of cartoons were acclaimed for their subtle but pointed satire of race relations, and their success led to "Charlie’s Pad," a 1971 series on public television that Johnson created, co-produced, and hosted.  As an undergraduate at Southern Illinois University, Johnson studied with novelist and literary theorist John Gardner, whose conception of "moral fiction"-demanding from the author a near-fanatical commitment to technique, imagination, and ethics-deeply impressed Johnson.  Johnson’s first novel, Faith and the Good Thing, was published in 1974 when the author was studying for this Ph.D. in phenomenology and literary aesthetics at the State University of New York at Stonybrook.

Biography excerpted from:James P. Draper, Editor of Black Literature Criticism, and Gale Research Inc

Robert JohnsonCharles Johnson LIVE!

The E-Channel presents the words and wisdom of the writer Charles Johnson. It's Charles Johnson LIVE ! It was created by E. Ethelbert Miller in January 2011. It's a one year project in which Miller will interview Johnson about his books, beliefs, and various matters of the heart and mind. The E-Channel presents Johnson's own voice. Every word is his. They are responses to questions asked each week by Miller.

“I think together we two brothers—black men in America—created something unprecedented in literary culture, something others might be inspired by and seek to imitate or build upon. This year-long project really IS something never done before, never even conceived of before (in the past or present), and I know how much work you invested in it.” —Charles Johnson

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14 Books by Charles Johnson