Faith and the Good Thing

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Scribner Classics, Jan 1, 2001 - Fiction - 236 pages
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Charles Johnson, the National Book Award-winning author of the bestselling "Middle Passage," published his stunning first novel, "Faith and the Good Thing," in 1974. At its release, "Black World" called it "one of the great American novels of this century...unqualifiedly good and extraordinarily beautiful."

"Faith and the Good Thing" is the haunting fable of Faith Cross, a black Southern girl whose quest for the good in life comes to represent our shared human adventure from innocence to identity. Faith is told by her dying mother, "Girl, you get yourself a good thing," although she has no idea what that is. As we follow her journey from the traditional Southern Baptist world of her mother's funeral to a swamp witch's lair to a life of prostitution and loveless marriage in Chicago, we relive the history of twentieth-century black America, annotated with philosophic insight into the nature of identity, justice, and our common place in the universe along the way.

Told in the style of black folklore and replete with voodoo werewitches, hypocritical Pentecostal preachers, wise street bums, and philosophy from the ancient Nubian lore to Plato, Descartes, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, "Faith and the Good Thing" burgeons with riches. Like Voltaire's Candide with a touch of de Sade's Justine, or the protagonist of Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood," Johnson's Faith is an innocent who searches through the horrors of this world to terrible knowledge and vital understanding.

"Publishers Weekly" hailed this novel as "so original, so imaginative, and so exciting in what it has to say about the black woman's experience in America that it is a reading experience unlike anything else in a longtime." It will dazzle Johnson's new and loyal fans who are discovering his early work for the first time.

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About the author (2001)

Charles Johnson was the first African-American man since Ralph Ellison to win the National Book Award, which he received for his third novel, Middle Passage, in 1990. The New York Times Book Review called it "a novel in the honorable tradition of Billy Budd and Moby-Dick...heroic in proportion." Born in Evanston, Illinois, Charles Johnson began his career as a cartoonist for Black Humor and saw his first work published by the time he was seventeen. An internationally traveled lecturer and widely published commentator, he is currently the Pollock Professor of English at the University of Washington and lives in Seattle.

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