James Arthur Baldwin (1924 – 1987) was an American writer.
“There has been a renaissance when it comes to Baldwin’s work in the last maybe four to five years. People have really returned to his books…He was just exceptional at understanding history and understanding people and knowing that we constantly repeat our mistakes, because we are constantly denying our history and refusing to reckon with it. Baldwin knew that better than almost anyone else. He was fantastic.” Robert Jones Jr.
Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Today by Eddie Glaude is an introduction to the life and work of Baldwin. “This title is written by a man who has been reading James Baldwin—both as a professor and as a African American who wants to understand the world he’s in—for most of his adult life. He has taken not the fiction of Baldwin, but the nonfiction, starting with The Fire Next Time (published in 1963) and going on through the seventies and right up until his death in 1987.” Patrick Wright in the 2021 British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.
Another recommended book about Baldwin is The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America. ‘This is a book that you finish reading and you’re mad you’re done, it’s so so so good. It’s much more recent than the others, it was written in 2019. Nicholas Buccola is a wonderful political theorist. He does a fine job of helping us to know Buckley and Baldwin in much greater depth.” Myisha Cherry the American philosopher recommends books on anger about racial injustice.
Books by James Baldwin
“It takes place in a day and it feels like it takes place over a longer span, because he does these interesting interludes where he goes back in time to talk about his family lineage. It’s a beautifully written book. I think it’s his finest work, even though it’s his first work, and other works are more celebrated. But for me, it’s his best. I love it.” Read more...
Best Books by Black Queer Writers
Robert Jones Jr., Novelist
“This is my favorite novel by James Baldwin; it was his last one, published in 1979. You don’t hear as much about it as you do about his early novels.” Read more...
Jenny Davidson, Literary Scholar
Interviews where books by James Baldwin were recommended
The Best Love Stories, recommended by Jenny Davidson
From Jane Austen to James Baldwin, the best love stories in literature recommended by Jenny Davidson, novelist, historian and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.
Best Books by Black Queer Writers, recommended by Robert Jones Jr.
The novels of James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Wallace Thurman and James Early Hardy bring the America of the last two centuries vividly to life. Marlon James brings us a fantasy trilogy set in ancient Africa. Robert Jones Jr., author of The Prophets—a love story set on a plantation in the American South—talks us through his choices of the best books by Black queer writers.