Soulcatcher: And other stories

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9780156011129: Soulcatcher: And other stories

Twelve stories about the African experience of slavery in America, by the National Book Award-winning novelist.

Nothing has had as profound an effect on American life as slavery. For blacks and whites alike, the experience has left us with a conflicted and contradictory history. Now, famed novelist Charles Johnson, whose Middle Passage won the National Book Award, presents a dozen tales of the effects and experience of slavery, each based on historical fact, and each about those Africans who arrived on our shores in shackles. From Martha Washington's management of her slaves, bequeathed to her at the death of the first president, to a boy chained in the bowels of a ship plying the infamous passage from Africa to the South laden with human cargo, from a lynching in Indiana to a hunter of escaped slaves searching the Boston market for his quarry, from an early Quaker meeting exploring resettlement in Africa to the day after Emancipation-the voices, terrors, and savagery of slavery come vividly and unforgettably to life.

These stories, told by a master storyteller, transcend history even as they present it, and retell the mythic proportions of a historical period with astounding realism and beauty, power, and emotion.

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Review:

Charles Johnson's stories about the African American experience of slavery had an interesting genesis. TV producer Orlando Bagwell asked the author to write 12 original short stories based on the PBS series Africans in America: America's Journey through Slavery. Johnson found the request daunting but irresistible. As he writes in his preface: "Rarely is a writer given the opportunity (like an actor) to climb into the skin of both Frederick Douglass and Martha Washington, to descend into the fetid hold of a slave ship and join a nineteenth century slave revolt, to play Jefferson's consul to Haiti and inhabit the psyche of both a runaway slave and his pursuer."

Accordingly, the dozen stories run a gamut of styles, each ingeniously appropriate to its subject. In "The Transmission," Johnson uses straightforward narrative to tell the story of a young slave's arrival in America. On the epistolary front, "A Report from St. Dominique" is a letter to Thomas Jefferson from his consul in Haiti. And in "Martha's Dilemma," Martha Washington describes her fear of her own slaves after her husband's death. This tale is based on a historical footnote: George Washington, privately opposed to slavery, added a codicil to his will that freed the slaves after his wife's death. "Oh, George, you were not a thinker," laments Martha. "Had you been, you would not out of Christian kindness to the blacks unwittingly consigned me to a hellish house, where in the face of each of our formerly loving attendants I now see my possible executioner." In "Confession," the runaway Tiberius describes his awakening to the injustice of slavery: "We was all like folks in one of them madhouses, black and white, thinkin' the way we lived and died was the nat'ral way of things when, from top to bottom, it was crazy as can be." Johnson shows every face of that madness. At a mere 110 pages, Soulcatcher makes a giant impact. --Claire Dederer

About the Author:

Charles Johnson, recipient of a 1998 MacArthur Foundation Award, is the author of five works of fiction, including Dreamer. He has received many honors and awards, including the National Book Award. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington.

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Book Description Roundhouse Publishing Ltd, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Twelve stories about the African experience of slavery in America, by the National Book Award-winning novelist. Nothing has had as profound an effect on American life as slavery. For blacks and whites alike, the experience has left us with a conflicted and contradictory history. Now, famed novelist Charles Johnson, whose Middle Passage won the National Book Award, presents a dozen tales of the effects and experience of slavery, each based on historical fact, and each about those Africans who arrived on our shores in shackles. From Martha Washington s management of her slaves, bequeathed to her at the death of the first president, to a boy chained in the bowels of a ship plying the infamous passage from Africa to the South laden with human cargo, from a lynching in Indiana to a hunter of escaped slaves searching the Boston market for his quarry, from an early Quaker meeting exploring resettlement in Africa to the day after Emancipation-the voices, terrors, and savagery of slavery come vividly and unforgettably to life. These stories, told by a master storyteller, transcend history even as they present it, and retell the mythic proportions of a historical period with astounding realism and beauty, power, and emotion. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780156011129

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Book Description Roundhouse Publishing Ltd, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Twelve stories about the African experience of slavery in America, by the National Book Award-winning novelist. Nothing has had as profound an effect on American life as slavery. For blacks and whites alike, the experience has left us with a conflicted and contradictory history. Now, famed novelist Charles Johnson, whose Middle Passage won the National Book Award, presents a dozen tales of the effects and experience of slavery, each based on historical fact, and each about those Africans who arrived on our shores in shackles. From Martha Washington s management of her slaves, bequeathed to her at the death of the first president, to a boy chained in the bowels of a ship plying the infamous passage from Africa to the South laden with human cargo, from a lynching in Indiana to a hunter of escaped slaves searching the Boston market for his quarry, from an early Quaker meeting exploring resettlement in Africa to the day after Emancipation-the voices, terrors, and savagery of slavery come vividly and unforgettably to life. These stories, told by a master storyteller, transcend history even as they present it, and retell the mythic proportions of a historical period with astounding realism and beauty, power, and emotion. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780156011129

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