Whittier College News Release
National Book Award-Winner Charles Johnson at Whittier College
Charles Johnson, author of
such novels as Faith and the Good
WHEN: 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5
WHERE: The Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts
13406 Philadelphia Street, Whittier
ADD: Charles 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 1990. He was the first African-American man to win the National Book Award since Ralph Ellison. This year, he won the Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. Middle Passage—like Johnson’s other works of fiction—embodies his controversial vision of black literature, defined in his non-fiction work Being and Race: Black Writing Since 1970, 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.” He is also the author of the historical novel Dreamer.
Born in Evanston, Ill., Johnson began his career as a cartoonist. Under the tutelage of Lawrence Lariar, he saw his work published by the time he was 17. His two collections of cartoons were acclaimed for their subtle and pointed satire of race relations. In 1971, that success led to Charlie’s Pad, a series on public television that Johnson created, co-produced, and hosted.
As an undergraduate at Southern Illinois University, he 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. His first novel, Faith and the Good Thing, was published in 1974, when the author was studying for his Ph.D. in phenomenology and literary aesthetics.
INFORMATION: The talk is free, but reservations are required. For information, call the Shannon Center Box Office at (562) 907-4203.
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