One of the country’s most celebrated literary figures will join a special University of Hawaiʻi series to shed light on the success of more than two dozen novels and the role religion plays in shaping his writing and imagination. Nationally acclaimed author, Charles Johnson will participate in a livestream conversation at the 2021 Hawaiʻi Book & Music Festival in partnership with the UH Better Tomorrow Speaker Series.
Johnson, a lifelong student of Buddhism, says the practice molds his way of living and will dive deeper into a forthcoming graphic novel that interweaves Buddhist teachings and Afrofuturism.
The online forum, Buddhism, Writing, and Race, is free and open to the public, and will be held on Sunday, October 17 at 5:30 p.m. (Register online)
Johnson, winner of the National Book Award, is also a cartoonist, screenwriter, philosopher and recipient of countless honors, including a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, the Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Award at the National Black Writers Conference.
“Over the course of his career, Johnson has influenced fields across the arts and humanities,” said Peter Arnade, dean of UH Mānoa’s College of Arts, Languages & Letters. “We are honored to have him in conversation with our own George Tanabe.”
Tanabe, an emeritus professor of the UH Mānoa Department of Religion has been a key figure in Hawaiʻi in the field of religion for more than 40 years. In 2014, the Consulate of Japan in Honolulu awarded Tanabe the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon for strengthening the academic and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Japan.
“Johnson is a towering figure in literature, but he also has keen insights on the meaning and future of Buddhism in America,” said Tanabe.
This event is being organized in partnership with the Hawaiʻi Book & Music Festival with the support of Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai Hawaiʻi.
The Better Tomorrow Speaker Series is a joint venture of UH Mānoa, the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and Kamehameha Schools.