MacArthur Fellows Program

Charles R. Johnson

Writer | Class of 1998

Seattle, Washington
50 at time of award
Published July 1, 1998

About Charles' Work

Charles Johnson is an innovative writer whose works address issues of culture and racial identity.

Johnson addresses fundamental, philosophical questions in his works and makes a serious effort to overcome and transcend the boundaries of class, ethnicity, and culture. The promise of American society looms large in his novels, as does the concept of our dependence on each other for survival. Johnson is the author of two cartoon collections: Black Humor (1970) and Half‑Past Nation‑Time (1972). His works of fiction include the novels Faith and the Good Thing (1974), Oxherding Tale (1982), Middle Passage (1990), and Dreamer (1998), as well as three volumes of short stories, The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1986), Soulcatcher and Other Stories (2001), and Dr. King’s Refrigerator and Other Bedtime Stories (2005). His nonfiction works include Being and Race: Black Writing Since 1970 (1988) and Turning the Wheel: Essays on Buddhism and Writing (2003). In addition to several co-authored books, he has also written numerous screenplays.


Johnson is the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he has been teaching since 1972.

Johnson received a B.A. (1971) and an M.A. (1973) from Southern Illinois University and a Ph.D. (1988) from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. 

Last updated January 1, 2005

Select News Coverage of Charles R. Johnson
December 22, 2016
"Charles Johnson: By the Book"
The New York Times
Charles R. Johnson , 1998 MacArthur Fellow
December 7, 2016
"Charles Johnson: “The Way Of The Writer”"
The Diane Rehm Show
Charles R. Johnson , 1998 MacArthur Fellow
October 31, 2016
"Next Stop for ‘Rutherford’s Travels’: Pegasus Theatre"
American Theatre
Charles R. Johnson , 1998 MacArthur Fellow
October 27, 2016
Free Reading with Author Charles Johnson
Author Charles Johnson will read from a selection of his works and engage with audience members in a question and answer session to follow.
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