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Charles Johnson On His Novel "Middle Passage" And Black Lives In America

photo by Crystal Wiley-Brown

(This program was originally broadcast on October 15, 2019)

Today, Tom’s guest for the hour is the award-winning novelist, literary scholar and artist, Charles Johnson

Dr. Johnson is best-known as the author of Middle Passagethe epic novel about the 1830s slave trade for which he won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1990. At the time, he was only the second African-American man to have won the honor, after Ralph Ellison. 

Johnson's other novels include Night HawksDr. King’s RefrigeratorDreamerand Faith and the Good Thing.

In 1998, Dr. Johnson received a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called "genius grant."  In 2002, he received the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters

Credit cover art courtesy Atheneum Books

Dr. Johnson began his career in the 1960s as a cartoonist, creating comic strips and editorial cartoons for a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, Ebony and PlayboyIn addition to his novels, Charles Johnson has written numerous screenplays, essays, and children’s books.  

Charles Johnson lives in Seattle, where he is professor emeritus at the University of Washington.

We livestreamed this conversation on WYPR's Facebook page.  Watch the video here.

This program was recorded previously, so we can't take your questions or comments.

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)