John Woman
by Mosley, Walter

A young man reinvents himself as a professor to share his late father's wisdom at an unorthodox university, only to encounter fellow intellectuals who have insights into his father's hidden past.

Walter Mosley is the author of more than fifty critically-acclaimed books, including the major bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. In 2013, he was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, and he is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award, a Grammy, and PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.

*Starred Review* Cornelius' beautiful, Italian American mother has left him with his father, Herman, an African American from Mississippi who works as a projectionist in a rundown East Village theater screening silent films, but whose true calling is studying history. When Herman's health fails, Cornelius covertly takes over his job. Solitary and scholarly, he acquires a radical education from his philosopher father, who tells him, "There is no true event, Cornelius, only a series of occurrences open to interpretation." Cornered and desperate, Cornelius commits a serious crime; succumbs to the rough bewitchment of an investigating policewoman; then escapes, eventually surfacing as Professor John Woman at a private university run by a secret society in the southwestern desert. His unnervingly innovative and democratizing approach to teaching history earns him adoration and hate; then, inevitably, his hidden past erupts. After launching his promising new series featuring PI Joe King Oliver with Down the River unto the Sea (2018), Mosley is at his commanding, comfort-zone-blasting best in this heady tale of a fugitive genius. His hero's lectures are marvels of intellectual pyrotechnics and provocative inquiries; intense sex scenes raise questions about gender roles and intimacy; and John Woman's increasingly drastic predicament and complex moral quandary precipitate arresting insights into race, freedom, power, and the stories we tell to try to make sense of the ceaseless torrent of human conflict and desire. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Versatile, masterful Mosley is a reader magnet, and this collision of crime and academic jousting will incite special interest. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

The versatile, justly celebrated creator of Easy Rawlins, Leonid McGill, and other iconic crime solvers raises the stakes with this tightly wound combination of psychological suspense and philosophic inquiry. Every now and then, Mosley (Down the River Unto the Sea, 2018, etc.) likes to pitch a change-up to his detective novel devotees with forays into racy melodrama (Debbie Doesn't Do It Any More, 2014) and science fiction (Inside a Silver Box, 2015). Here he weaves elements of both the erotic and the speculative into a taut, riveting, and artfully edgy saga of a charismatic and controversial history professor at a mythical southwestern university. If his name, which is the same as the novel's, sounds like an alias, it is an alias: In a previous life, John Woman's name was Cornelius Jones, a shy teenage bookworm filling in for his invalid father, Herman, a projectionist in a silent-movie repertory theater in Manhattan's East Village. Cornelius, or CC, finds his unassuming lif e disrupted when the theater's owner barges into the projection booth threatening to fire his dad. CC kills the owner and hides his corpse in a trunk that he stows in a built-in bookcase concealed from view. After his father dies, Cornelius changes his identity, attends both City College and Harvard, and eventually heads for the New University of the Southwest, where, as professor Woman, he achieves a reputation as a demanding instructor of "deconstructionist historical devices," intended to challenge students to think outside conventional definitions of recorded time. Woman's provocative approach to his subject bewilders most of his students (at first) while ticking off fellow faculty members enough to look for any reason to dismiss him. In the meantime, Woman makes things hotter for himself with an affair with a student and is chilled by the enigmatic shadows stalking him, whether it's a mysterious billionaire auditing his class or anonymous notes he finds on his kitchen t a ble alluding to his deadly past. Somehow, it makes sense that when Walter Mosley puts forth a novel of ideas, it arrives with the unexpected force of a left hook and the metallic gleam of a new firearm. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

One evening Herman stopped his son in the middle of The Confessions of Saint Augustine and said, "This is the power of the world, boy. The memory of an unattainable paradise where everything is predictable and outwardly control-lable. It is all that we are; history, memory. It is what happened, or what we decide on believing has happened. It is yesterday and a million years ago. It is today but still we cannot grasp it."

"I don't know what you mean, dad," Cornelius said. He was sixteen that day but his father, for all his interest in history, did not remember the date. Since he was in his bed almost twenty-four hours a day he had no need for a calendar.

"I mean that the person who controls history controls their fate. The man who can tell you what happened, or did not happen, is lord and master of all he surveys."

"But if he claims something that isn't true then he's master of a lie," Cornelius reasoned.

Herman smiled and leaned forward. "But," he said, holding up a lecturing finger, "if everyone believes the lie then he controls a truth that we all as-sent to. There is no true event, Cornelius, only a series of occurrences open to interpretation."

Though Cornelius did not know it for many years, this was the moment of the birth of John Woman.

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