The New York Times bestselling author of the Easy Rawlins novels delivers “a taut, riveting, and artfully edgy saga” of one man’s self-transformation (Kirkus).
At twelve years old, Cornelius Jones, the son of an Italian-American woman and a black man from Mississippi, secretly takes over his father’s job at a silent film theater in New York’s East Village—until the innocent scheme goes tragically wrong. Years later, his dying father imparts this piece of wisdom to Cornelius: 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—becoming Professor John Woman, a man who will spread his father’s teachings through the classrooms of an 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
In Mosley's offbeat and insightful novel (following Down the River unto the Sea), 16-year-old New Yorker Cornelius "CC" Jones the brilliant son of an Italian-American flirt and an older black autodidact spends his evenings in the early 1990s working his father's job in a downtown theater while his father is ill at home. One night, in a moment of violence, CC kills the theater's landlord; the crime will haunt him forever. He soon leaves New York under the new identity of John Woman and goes on to study at elite universities, creating a new intellectual movement around the unreliable nature of history. His skills and area of expertise lead him to the New University of the Southwest, a liberal college funded and staffed by members of a mysterious organization known as the Platinum Path, who have taken quite the interest in John and in the defining moments of his childhood and true past. 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.