A fearless work of historical fiction that digs deep into the life of one of history’s best-known figures of the Civil Rights Movement
Martin Luther King Jr is a political visionary, human rights activist, preacher, scholar and martyr.
Chaym Smith is his dark mirror, a violent, cynical criminal with a mind and talent to mimic King’s. When Smith begins to act as King’s double at rallies, the contradictions and strange similarities between the two men set one question into sharp focus – is evil inherent or a product of circumstance?
Dreamer is a multi-layered masterpiece, capturing Civil Rights-era America in a snapshot of racism and brutality, revolution and hope.
“I am humbled by Dreamer and grateful for it. It is a transcendent, brilliant book … No other novelist among us today has quite Charles Johnson’s philosophical weight, intellectual force or spiritual understanding … This is a book to sustain us – black and white, all of us – and so powerfully wrought as to endure in our literature so long as our literature itself endures”
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“Like a skiff exploring history’s more hidden currents, Johnson’s poetic language drifts with care over the moiling currents of King’s intellect, leaving in its wake a wonderful, prismatic novel, exhorting and testifying, but never preaching”
”Dreamer is not content merely to explore inequality and its pesky moral dilemmas; it goes farther, to hold up a mirror in which the interrelatedness of these apparent opposites can be viewed … a lively tale that leaves the reader with enormous concerns to contemplate … It’s a joy to read fiction in which there is a cultivated vision at work”
new York Times
“What unites Dreamer’s diverse concerns - biography, politics, sociology, ethics - is its passionate desire to celebrate black history and to vindicate King - it is powerful as a moral tribute”
“His fiction transcends the immediate concerns of race and colour, and will find its place in the great body of literature produced by America’s humanitarian tradition”
Charles Johnson is a novelist, screenwriter, essayist, professional cartoonist and was the Pollock Professor of English at the University of Washington until his retirement. In 1998 he received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and in 2003 literary scholars founded the Charles Johnson Society at the American Literature Association. He is the author of more than sixteen books, including the PEN/Faulkner-nominated story collection The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the novel Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award.