'Johnny' is the concluding book of the Johnson Family saga. Like the first two books in the series, 'Booker' and 'Leroy', it deals with the life of the Johnson family, an African American family that lives in France. The novel begins after Johnny's prostate gland has been surgically removed because of cancer. The prospect that he will eventually die of the ailment does not bother him as much as the possible permanent loss of sexual potency. However, the experience does remind him that he is mortal which causes him to review his life. He concluded that the greatest threat to his serenity during the time that he has left is the imminent lost of love and respect of his grand children. Johnny's goal becomes to transform himself from ghetto to mainstream. The first part of the book deals with Johnny's early life. He is born in a small town on the Chattahoochee River in Alabama. His scholastically and religious education are described as well as his ambitions and frustrations. He is saved from a impending mediocre life by enlisting in the Marines. In Korea, he becomes a war hero that later enables him to find decent employment in his hometown. He marries Louise, a local girl and yields to pressure from her for a honeymoon in Paris. The couple like Paris so much that they decide to remain there. After two children, Leroy and Booker, the couple falls apart. The social pressures leading to the rupture are described. In Paris, the couple is acutely aware of their relative poverty and low cultural level. Johnny feels that they should concentrate on accumulating wealth whereas Louise desires to improve their social status. Johnny becomes a dealer in stolen merchandise, mostly items stolen from the US army by soldiers. He and a French partner later open a cabaret for African American soldiers in Paris, which expanded into a series of bars, and other small businesses in the Paris area. Louise becomes increasingly cosmopolitan while serving as an international civil servant with UNESCO. Their different situation and prospective gradually makes life together untenable. Louise abandoned him and their children to follow her lover to Miami. The contrast between the perception and treatment of Africans and African Americans in Paris is examined in detail. The ramifications of Africans trying to migrate to Europe in order to find a better life are also treated. Obafemi unsuccessfully attempts to find work in France and finally settles on dealing in illegal drugs after refusing pandering is one of the subplots. A distance relative of Obafemi, Ogunlana, moving from drug dealing to the establishment of an African prostitution rings because it was safer is also related. The stories of many other colorful African American characters that haunted Paris in the later half of the 20th century are also reveled.
Number Of Pages: 348
Published: 28th June 2005
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.44