Mat Johnson at the 2011 Texas Book Festival.
August 19, 1970 |
Mat Johnson (born in Philadelphia August 19, 1970) is an American writer of literary fiction.
Mat Johnson was born and raised in the Germantown and Mount Airy communities in Philadelphia. He attended Greene Street Friends School. In 2007, he was named the first USA James Baldwin Fellow by the United States Artists Foundation. Mat Johnson lives in Houston, where he teaches at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
Mat Johnson’s first novel, Drop (Bloomsbury USA, 2000), was a coming-of-age novel about a self-hating Philadelphian who thinks he has found his escape when he takes a job at a Brixton-based advertising agency in London, U.K. The work was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection; Interview magazine named Johnson a “Writer on the Verge”; and Drop was listed among Progressive Magazine’s “Best Novels of the Year.”
In 2003, Johnson published Hunting in Harlem (Bloomsbury USA 2003), a satire about gentrification in Harlem and an exploration of belief versus fanaticism. Hunting in Harlem won the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Novel of the Year.
Johnson made his first move into the comics form with the publication of the five-issue limited series Hellblazer Special: Papa Midnite (Vertigo 2005), where he took an existing character of the Hellblazer franchise and created an origin story that strove to offer depth and dignity to a character that was arguably a racial stereotype of the noble savage. The work was set in 18th Century Manhattan, and was based around the research that Johnson was conducting for his first historical effort, The Great Negro Plot (Bloomsbury USA). The Great Negro Plot is a creative non-fiction that tells the story of the New York Slave Insurrection of 1741 and the resultant trial and hysteria.
In February 2008, Vertigo Comics published Johnson's graphic novel Incognegro, a noir mystery that deals with the issue of Passing (racial identity) and the lynching past of the American south . The work is illustrated by British artist Warren Pleece with cover artwork by Stephen John Phillips.
Mat Johnson attended West Chester University, University of Wales-Swansea, and ultimately received his B.A. from Earlham College, and in 1993, he was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Johnson received his MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts (1999). Johnson has taught at Rutgers University, Columbia University, Bard College, The Callaloo Journal Writers Retreat, and is now a permanent faculty member at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
He was named a 2007 USA James Baldwin Fellow and awarded a $50,000 grant by United States Artists, a public charity that supports and promotes the work of American artists. On September 21, 2011, Mat Johnson was awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.
- Drop (Bloomsbury USA, 2000)
- Hunting in Harlem (Bloomsbury USA, 2003)
- Pym (Random/Spiegel & Grau, 2011)
- The Great Negro Plot (Bloomsbury USA, 2007)
- Hellblazer Special: Papa Midnite (Vertigo, 5-issue limited series, 2005; tpb, 2006, ISBN 1-4012-1003-1)
- Incognegro (Vertigo, graphic novel, 2008, hardcover, ISBN 1-4012-1097-X)
- Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story (Vertigo, graphic novel, 2010, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4012-2160-7)
- Right State (Vertigo, graphic novel, 2012, 144 pages, ISBN 1-4012-2943-3)
- Gumbo: Anthology of African American Literature (Harlem Moon, 2002)
- Not Guilty: Twelve Black Men Speak Out on Law, Justice, and Life (Amistad Press, 2002)
- Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience (W. W. Norton, 2006)
- Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness (Soft Skull Press, February 2012)
- Johnson Tells the Unknown Origin of "Hellblazer's" Papa Midnite in New Mini, Comic Book Resources, February 2, 2005
- Mat Johnson on Incognegro, Newsarama, November 29, 2007
- Staff (August 09, 2010). "Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Gallaher, Valerie (August 8, 2012). "Review: Vertigo's 'Right State' A Tense And Topical Thriller Pulled Straight From The Headlines". MTV Geek. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Staff (December 12, 2011). "Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness. Edited by Rebecca Walker.", Publishers Weekly.
- Staff (December 15, 2011). "BLACK COOL – A collection of essays focused on the “cool” cultural legacy of African-Americans.", Kirkus Reviews.
- Official website
- Mat Johnson on Twitter
- Literary Criticism of Hunting in Harlem
- Profile of Mat Johnson
- "'Great Negro Plot' Tells of Manhattan on the Edge", News and Notes, National Public Radio, February 7, 2007. (Links to RealPlayer or Windows Media Audio)
- "Rumors of a Slave Revolt", Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC, February 28, 2007. (Links to MP3 audio)
- Mat Johnson's United States Artist Page
- James Baldwin Foundation Fellows 2007
- United States Artists Arts Advocacy Organization.