Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Deborah Johnson: Author of the Week!

I've decided to kick off our Author of the Week feature with Deborah Johnson author of The Air Between Us, a "Secret Life of Beesesque" novel set in small town Mississippi at the dawn of integration.

Deb's submission was the first MS Word document I read as an Amistad staffer that turned into an actual book. In addition to posessing charming characters, a compelling plot with a mysterious twist you'll never see coming, and a gorgeous, florid setting (those in need of a more objective opinion may read this review from The Washington Post) the book has a highly intriguing back story, which you can read in this Behind the Book Piece: Read Me!

The original title of the novel was Ghost Surgeon. Which references a term used for black surgeons who performed operations during the 50s and 60s and on into the early 70s, when medicine was more personal and there was very little confidence in the skills of a black physician within the general populace. The attending physician would be with the patient as he/she went under the anesthesia, so the white patients woudn't know they were going to be operated on by a doctor of color. Deb's own father was one of these "ghost surgeons" in Omaha, Nebraska.

Yes, this little known practice belongs in the category of one of those smack you in the face types of racism that well, you just wouldn't know about unless it happened to you. A bit like what happened to me when I tried to get a job teaching English in Asia a few years back. If The Air Between Us sounds like it might be up your alley, I do hope these words encourage some of you to check out this heart-filled novel.

Next week's subject: The collected interviews, essays and speeches of Edward P. Jones.

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