James Baldwin was a black writer before the Civil Rights movement; a gay writer in homophobic mid-century America; a passionate maverick stylist who was swept into the destructive arena of politics.
In fiction, he drew heavily on his own self and was prepared to explore difficult truths about his life. He understood guilt and rage in a way few of his contemporaries did. But it was in his essays, Hilton Als argues that, unencumbered by the requirements of narrative form, character, and incident, that his voice was most fully realized.
First published in 1953, Baldwin’s first novel is a short but intense, semi-autobiographical exploration of the troubled life of the Grimes family in Harlem during the Depression.
When David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend’s return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened, while Giovanni’s life descends into tragedy.
The story of the suicide of jazz-musician Rufus Scott and the friends who search for an understanding of his life and death, discovering uncomfortable truths about themselves along the way.
Since it was first published, this famous study of the Black Problem in America has become a classic.
Powerful, haunting, and prophetic, it sounds a clarion warning to the world.
Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, the essays collected in ‘Notes of a Native Son’ capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement. This book inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the 20th century and it is the book that established Baldwin’s voice as a social critic.
In his introduction to the book Baldwin describes the writer as requiring ‘every ounce of stamina he can summon to attempt to look on himself and the world as they are’. This collection contains ‘Fifth Avenue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem’, polemical pieces on the tragedies inflicted by racial segregation and a poignant account of his first journey to ‘the Old Country’, the southern states.