Johnson (born 1948) is an American scholar and author of novels, short stories, and essays. Johnson, an African-American, has directly addressed the issues of black life in America in novels such as Middle Passage and Dreamer.
Johnson first came to prominence in the 1960s as a political cartoonist, at which time he was also involved in radical politics. In 1970, he published a collection of cartoons, and this led to a television series about cartooning on PBS. Johnson's first novel, Faith and The Good Thing was published in 1974. In 1990, he was awarded the National Book Award for Middle Passage.
Johnson is currently the Pollock Professor in Humanities at the University of Washington, and is a MacArthur Fellow. He as also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Academy Award in Literature. In 2003 he published Turning the Wheel, a collections of essays about his experiences as an African-American Buddhist.