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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"Reading [Johnson's] important new novel, Dreamer, you can't help being stirred up by his truth seeking and by his passion for ideas, because the ideas he is most passionate about are not heady musings on the nature of reality, but ideas to live by, ideas that would help us to become better people and to create a more compassionate world." —Dennis McFarland, The New York Times Book Review
With Dreamer, his first novel since the 1990 National Book Award-winning Middle Passage, Charles Johnson offers the first work of fiction to explore the extraordinary life of Martin Luther King Jr. Providing keen insight into the last two years of King's life while questioning the entire legacy of equality, Dreamer extends beyond the definition of historical fiction with its imaginative range and singular ambition.
"I wanted to start a dialogue," Johnson says of Dreamer, "a dialogue about what we, as a people, learned about civil rights, human rights in the wake of the life of this man." Johnson's personal vision of Reverend King is that of a philosopher, an intellectually complex man, often conflicted, who seemed to understand he was at the center of a historical journey.
Dreamer is narrated from the perspective of Matthew Bishop, one of King's devoted followers. The novel begins in Chicago at the height of the turbulent civil rights movement. Matthew introduces King to Chaym Smith, a man whose striking physical resemblance to King wins him the job of official stand-in. In the course of training Chaym to shield King from danger, Matthewcomesto realize the philosophical magnitude of the greatest civil rights leader, and the ambiguities within the movement itself, and he — and we — are irreversibly changed. What makes one man great and the other just a mirror of greatness? What does it mean to be of African descent in America? What does it take to change the face of the country forever?