Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Night Hawks: Stories by Charles R. Johnson


I don't read lots of short story collections, but this one had caught my eye. It looks to be a truly eclectic mix of stories. 



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 R. Johnson is an American scholar and author of novels, short stories, and essays. Johnson, an African-American, has directly addressed the issues of black life in America in novels such as Middle Passage and Dreamer. Johnson first came to prominence in the 1960s as a political cartoonist, at which time he was also involved in radical politics. In 1970, he published a collection of cartoons, and this led to a television series about cartooning on PBS.

1990 National Book Award Winner.


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