At twelve years old, Cornelius, the son of an Italian-American woman and an older black man from Mississippi named Herman, secretly takes over his father’s job at a silent film theater in New York’s East Village. Five years later, as Herman lives out his last days, he shares his wisdom with his son, explaining that the person who controls the narrative of history controls their own fate. After his father dies and his mother disappears, Cornelius sets about reinventing himself—as Professor John Woman, a man who will spread Herman’s teachings into the classrooms of his unorthodox southwestern university and beyond. But there are other individuals who are attempting to influence the narrative of John Woman, and who might know something about the facts of his hidden past.
Engaging with some of the most provocative ideas of recent intellectual history,John Woman is a compulsively readable, deliciously unexpected novel about the way we tell stories, and whether the stories we tell have the power to change the world.
Praise forJohn Woman
"A smart sly novel of ideas...Defying genre, Mosley’s latest novel is much like his eponymous hero: speculative, brilliant and wildly original."—The National Book Review
“Mosley…seamlessly combines elements of dystopian thrillers, psychological crime, philosophical fiction, and straightforward melodrama. His rich, earthy prose burrows through complex abstract ideas and suspenseful plot twists with equal utility. And the cascade of syncopated revelations during the final sprint feel fully earned. Don’t expect certainty, though. As always, the final truth is up for grabs.”— The AV Club
"The versatile, justly celebrated creator of Easy Rawlins, Leonid McGill, and other iconic crime solvers raises the stakes with this tightly wound combination of psychological suspense and philosophic inquiry...Here he weaves elements of both the erotic and the speculative into a taut, riveting, and artfully edgy saga...Somehow, it makes sense that when Walter Mosley puts forth a novel of ideas, it arrives with the unexpected force of a left hook and the metallic gleam of a new firearm."—Kirkus Reviews
"Mosley’s superpower lies in his slantwise take on the world and his characters, of whom there are dozens, and every one is memorable...this fantastic, surprising, humane and somewhat perverse book is one of Mosley’s best."—BookPage
"An intellectual romp of a novel by the renowned mystery writer.”—O Magazine
"Mosley is at his commanding, comfort-zone-blasting best in this heady tale of a fugitive genius. His hero’s lectures are marvels of intellectual pyrotechnics and provocative inquiries; intense sex scenes raise questions about gender roles and intimacy; and John Woman’s increasingly drastic predicament and complex moral quandary precipitate arresting insights into race, freedom, power, and the stories we tell to try to make sense of the ceaseless torrent of human conflict and desire"—Booklist
“Offbeat and insightful… Fast paced but still full of provocative questions about society, the story grounds the wilder aspects of its plot by providing a fascinating cast of endearing characters. Mosley’s novel is one to savor, and an unpredictable, unabashedly strange good time.”—Publisher's Weekly
"A novel by Walter Mosley always prods a reader to think beyond the mundane...He’s a keen observer and a masterful writer...His latest novel, “John Woman,” is a little bit crime story and also a meditation on history, identity, power and sex...Is it OK for a relatively good person to hurt a relatively bad person? Mosley takes old questions like that and makes them fresh again."--The Seattle Times
Praise for Walter Mosley:
“When reviewing a book by Walter Mosley, it’s hard not to simply quote all the great lines. There are so many of them. You want to share the pleasures of Mosley’s jazz-inflected dialogue and the moody, descriptive passages reminiscent of Raymond Chandler at his best.”—Washington Post, onDown the River Unto the Sea
“A daring, beautifully wrought story that incorporates elements of allegory, meditative reflection and the lilt of lyric tragedy. ”—Los Angeles Times, onThe Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
“With Mosley, there’s always the surprise factor—a cutting image or a bracing line of dialogue.”—New York Times Book Review, onAnd Sometimes I Wonder About You
“Mosley’s invigorating, staccato prose and understanding of racial, moral and social subtleties are in full force.”—Seattle Times, onKnown to Evil
“[Mosley has] revitalized two genres, the hard-boiled novel and the American behaviorist novel.”—Roberto BolaÃ±o
“Mosley is the Gogol of the African-American working class—the chronicler par excellence of the tragic and the absurd.”—Vibe
“[Mosley] has a special talent for touching upon these sticky questions of evil and responsibility without getting stuck in them.”—New Yorker
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