Beyond the Book: Background information when reading 47

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

47 by Walter Mosley X
47 by Walter Mosley
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2005, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2006, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to 47

Print Review

Walter Mosley is the author of more than twenty books for adults, including the Fearless Jones series (3 books) and Easy Rawlins series (10 books), he has also published a handful of non fiction titles, a collection of stories and has contributed to other collections.  His books have been translated into at least twenty-one languages. 47 is his first book for children.

In 1996 he was named the first Artist-in-Residence, at the Africana Studies Institute, New York University. Since that residency, he has continued to work with the department, creating an innovative lecture series entitled "Black Genius" which brings diverse speakers from art, politics and academe to discuss practical solutions to contemporary issues.

Working with the City University of New York (CUNY) he has also created a new publishing certificate program aimed at young urban residents. It is the only such program in the country.

Publishing Soon
Mosley changes genre once again with his forthcoming novel, Killing Johnny Fry (Dec 2006), which is billed as a "sexistential novel".  This is a taste of what the pre-publication reviewers have to say about it:
"Though it all, Cordel's thoughts on humiliation, submission, pain, family, aging and abuse manage to sustain the wisp-thin plot of this total male fantasy." - PW.
"Mosley's decision to subtitle the book "a sexistenial novel" implies a more philosophical approach to sexuality than the gratuitous sexual episodes described here." - Library Journal.


About High John The Conqueror:  According to Mosley, "Tall John himself is a reflection of an old slave myth about a spirit named High John the Conqueror. High John, the myth goes, came from Africa to confound the white masters and to ultimately free the slaves." 

Zora Neale Hurston writes of High John de Conquer (pronounced conker) in The Sanctified Church, a collection of essays on Afro-American folklore, legend and myth with a particular focus on the spiritual character of the Southern Black Christian Church.  She depicts him as a trickster/shaman figure (similar to Anansi and Br'er Rabbit) who is said to have been an African prince sold into slavery in the Americas, but whose spirit was never broken.

Another traditional story is told by Virginia Hamilton, in which  John falls in love with the Devil's daughter; the Devil sets John a number of impossible tasks, but his daughter helps John by giving him magical tools to complete the tasks and also warns John that the Devil plans to kill him whether he succeeds or not.  So John and daughter steal the Devil's horses; they're pursued but escape by shape shifting. 

High John the Conqueror root is apparently one of the staples of African-American folk magic.  It is the root of Ipomoea jalapa (an evergreen climber that grows to about 3 meters that belongs to the same family as morning glory and sweet potato) and is used in Hoodoo, a folk version of the religion of Voodoo, that focuses on herbal magic.  Apparently the root is considered to bring good luck in gambling and is used in spells to do with sex; it is also a popular component of a mojo bag (a small flannel bag containing one or more magical items, worn by followers of hoodoo and voodoo).  When dried, the root resembles the testicles of a dark skinned man - hence it is extremely important for good mojo that the root be whole and unblemished!

This "beyond the book article" relates to 47. It originally ran in June 2005 and has been updated for the November 2006 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.