A masterful story collection—thirteen years in the making—from National Book Award winner Charles Johnson, showcasing the incredible range and resonant voice of this American treasure.
This new collection of stories from National Book Award winner Charles Johnson offers an eclectic, engaging range of narratives, tied together by Buddhist themes and displaying all the grace, heart, and insight for which he has long been known.
In “The Weave,” Ieesha and her boyfriend carry out a heist at the salon from which she has just been fired—coming away with thousands of dollars of merchandise in the form of hair extensions. “Night Hawks,” the titular story, draws on Johnson’s friendship with the late playwright August Wilson to construct a narrative about two writers who meet at night to talk. In “Kamadhatu,” a lonely Japanese abbot has his quiet world upended by a visit from a black American Buddhist whose presence pushes him toward the awakening he has long found elusive. “Occupying Arthur Whitfield,” about a cab driver who decides to rob the home of a wealthy passenger, reminds readers to be grateful for what they have. And “The Night Belongs to Phoenix Jones” combines the real-life story of a “superhero” in the city of Seattle with an invented narrative about an aging English professor who decides to join him.
Spanning genres from science fiction to realism, these stories convey messages of tolerance, hope, and gratitude. With precise, elegant, and moving language, Johnson creates memorable characters and real, human struggles that have the power to enlighten and change us as we read.
About the Author
Charles Johnson is a novelist, essayist, literary scholar, philosopher, cartoonist, screenwriter, and professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle. A MacArthur fellow, his fiction includes Night Hawks, Dr. King’s Refrigerator, Dreamer, Faith and the Good Thing, and Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award. In 2002 he received the Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Seattle.
"Johnson, the celebrate novelist, short story writer, screenwriter and essayist, here combines a finely tuned sense of humor with a desire to probe questions that lie at the heart of a reflective existence ... His book is a small treasure, one to be read and considered and reread." —New York Times Book Review
"Johnson’s writing, filled with the sort of long, layered sentences you can get happily lost in, conveys a kindness; a sense that all of us (particularly in “Occupying Arthur Whitfield” and “Welcome to Wedgwood”) have our own stories." —Seattle Times
"Best known for his masterful novels and essays, Johnson wrote this rare story collection over a period of 13 years—resulting in a masterpiece ... Unflinching in his observations, Johnson ultimately offers a message of empowerment and hope." —Oprah.com
"A treasure box." —Newsday
"Charles Johnson deftly weaves the funny with the philosophical." —Lion's Roar
"A modern master’s latest array of glittering tales offers the pleasures and solace of storytelling." —Kirkus, starred
"Arresting .. these are indelible moments that show Johnson to be a master of the short form. Highly recommended." —Library Journal, starred
"These striking stories from National Book Award–winner Johnson (Middle Passage) span a wide range of time periods and cultures but are woven together with a subtle thread of compassion." —Publishers Weekly
"This illuminating collection draws on Johnson's Buddhist faith, African American perspective, and aesthetic sensibilities." —Booklist