John of Watts: A Novel


Mitchell S. Jackson is a prose writer whose fiction is grounded in the traditions of realism and naturalism, and whose nonfiction tends to employ the personal to examine or critique the social and political.

Artist Bio

John of Watts is a novel inspired by the story of Eldridge Broussard, a youth preacher and former basketball player who started the Ecclesia Athletic Association, a group now known as a cult. Through historical fiction, Mitchell S. Jackson conducts an exploration of contemporary American culture and history by looking at the relationship between cults and the American Dream, urban revolt, sports, and the links between the Watts Riots of 1965 and the LA Riots of 1992.


Award Year
2021
Status

In Progress

Black guy in shaggy stripped sweater that sheds A Lot!

Mitchell S. Jackson

Chicago, IL

Mitchell S. Jackson is a prose writer whose fiction is grounded in the traditions of realism and naturalism, and whose nonfiction tends to employ the personal to examine or critique the social and political. A formerly incarcerated person, Jackson is also a social justice advocate who, as part of his outreach, visits prisons and youth facilities in the United States and abroad. His debut novel The Residue Years published by Bloomsbury received wide critical praise, winning The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and a finalist for the Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Jackson is the recipient of a Whiting Award, and other honors include fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Center for Fiction. His writing has been featured in the New Yorker, Harpers, the New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Time, Esquire, The Guardian, and elsewhere. His memoir Survival Math published by Scribner was named book of the year in 2019 by over 12 publications, including NPR, Time, The Paris Review, The Root, Kirkus Reviews, Esquire, and Buzzfeed. Jackson teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago.

Photo by John Ricard