'So the club rose, the blood came down, and his bitterness and his anguish and his guilt were compounded'
Drawing on Baldwin's own experiences of prejudice in an America violently divided by race, these searing essays blend the intensely personal with the political to envisage a better world.
Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.
'The story of the negro in America is the story of America ... it is not a very pretty story'
James Baldwin's breakthrough essay collection made him the voice of his generation. Ranging over Harlem in the 1940s, movies, novels, his preacher father and his experiences of Paris, they capture the complexity of black life at the dawn of the civil rights movement with effervescent wit and prophetic wisdom.
'A classic ... In a divided America, James Baldwin's fiery critiques reverberate anew' Washington Post
'Edgy and provocative, entertainingly satirical' Robert McCrum, Guardian
'Cemented his reputation as a cultural seer ... Notes of a Native Son endures as his defining work, and his greatest' Time
The New York Times bestseller based on the Oscar nominated documentary film
In June 1979, the writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin embarked on a project to tell the story of America through the lives of three of his murdered friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. He died before it could be completed. In his documentary film, I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck imagines the book Baldwin never wrote, using his original words to create a radical, powerful and poetic work on race in the United States - then, and today.
'Thrilling . . . A portrait of one man's confrontation with a country that, murder by murder, as he once put it, "devastated my universe"' The New York Times
'Baldwin's voice speaks even more powerfully today . . . the prose-poet of our injustice and inhumanity . . . The times have caught up with his scalding eloquence' Variety
'A cinematic séance . . . One of the best movies about the civil rights era ever made' Guardian
'I Am Not Your Negro turns James Baldwin into a prophet' Rolling Stone
'Few, it seems to me, have driven their words with such passion' Guardian
How our earliest experiences can shape our destiny is the theme that runs like a thread of revelation through these extraordinary stories. They explore the roots of love, of murder and of racial conflict, from the child in 'The Rockpile' who can never be forgiven by his God-fearing father for his illegitimacy to the loneliness of a young black girl in love with a white man who, she knows, will leave her in 'Come Out of the Wilderness' and the horrifying story of the initiation of a racist as a man remembers his parents taking him to see the mutilation and murder of a black man in 'Going to Meet the Man'. In them Baldwin unlocks the concepts of history and prejudice and probes beneath the skin to the soul.
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.
United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love’s endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love, not to mention lost love, twisted and obsessional love…
'Exquisite, a feat of fire-breathing, imaginative daring' Guardian
David, a young American in 1950s Paris, is waiting for his fiancée to return from vacation in Spain. But when he meets Giovanni, a handsome Italian barman, the two men are drawn into an intense affair. After three months David's fiancée returns and, denying his true nature, he rejects Giovanni for a 'safe' future as a married man. His decision eventually brings tragedy.
Filled with passion, regret and longing, this story of a fated love triangle has become a landmark of gay writing. James Baldwin caused outrage as a black author writing about white homosexuals, yet for him the issues of race, sexuality and personal freedom were eternally intertwined.
'If Van Gogh was our 19th-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our 20th-century one' Michael Ondaatje
'Baldwin writes of these matters with unusual candour and yet with such dignity and intensity' The New York Times
'Violent, excruciating beauty' San Francisco Chronicle
The electrifying first novel from James Baldwin, whose life and words are immortalized in the Oscar-nominated film I Am Not Your Negro
'I had to deal with what hurt me most. I had to deal with my father.'
Drawing on James Baldwin's own boyhood in a religious community in 1930s Harlem, his first novel tells the story of young Johnny Grimes. Johnny is destined to become a preacher like his father, Gabriel, at the Temple of the Fire Baptized, where the church swells with song and it is as if 'the Holy Ghost were riding on the air'. But he feels only scalding hatred for Gabriel, whose fear and fanaticism lead him to abuse his family. Johnny vows that, for him, things will be different. This blazing tale is full of passion and guilt, of secret sinners and prayers singing on the wind.
'A beautiful, enduring, spirtual song of a novel' Andrew O'Hagan
'With vivid imagery, with lavish attention to details, Mr. Baldwin has told his feverish story' The New York Times
'Let our novelists read Mr Baldwin and tremble. There is a whirlwind loose in the land' Sunday Times
When Another Country appeared in 1962, it caused a literary sensation. James Baldwin's masterly story of desire, hatred and violence opens with the unforgettable character of Rufus Scott, a scavenging Harlem jazz musician adrift in New York. Self-destructive, bad and brilliant, he draws us into a Bohemian underworld pulsing with heat, music and sex, where desperate and dangerous characters betray, love and test each other to the limit.
'In Another Country, Baldwin created the essential American drama of the century' Colm Tóibín
'An almost unbearable, tumultuous, blood-pounding experience' Washington Post
'Brilliantly and fiercely told' The New York Times
James Baldwin first wrote about homosexuality in his famous early novel, Giovanni’s Room. Here he brings homosexuality and race together in the story of the great gospel singer Arthur Montana. Arthur was found dead in the basement of a London pub at the age of thirty-nine, yet he lies on in this memoir. Written by Hall, his brother and manager, it is in part a subtle and moving study of the treacherous ebb and flow of memory.
Set against a vividly drawn background of the civil rights movement of the sixties, Just Above My Head explores how Arthur discovers his love for Jimmy - 'with his smile like a lantern and a voice like Saturday nights’ - and portrays how profoundly racial politics can shape the private business of love.
Baldwin's early essays have been described as 'an unequalled meditation on what it means to be black in America' . This rich and stimulating 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. Yet equally compelling are his 'Notes for a Hypothetical Novel' and personal reflections on being American, on oother major artists - Ingmar Bergman and Andre Gide, Norman Mailer and Richard Wright - and on the first great conferance of Negro - American writers and artists in Paris.
In his introduction Baldwin descrides the writer as requiring 'every ounce of stamina he can summon to attempt to look on himself and the world as they are' ; his uncanny ability to do just that is proclaimed on every page of this famous book.
The landmark work on race in America from James Baldwin, whose life and words are immortalized in the Oscar-nominated film I Am Not Your Negro
'We, the black and the white, deeply need each other here if we are really to become a nation'
James Baldwin's impassioned plea to 'end the racial nightmare' in America was a bestseller when it appeared in 1963, galvanising a nation and giving voice to the emerging civil rights movement. Told in the form of two intensely personal 'letters', The Fire Next Time is at once a powerful evocation of Baldwin's early life in Harlem and an excoriating condemnation of the terrible legacy of racial injustice.
'Sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle ... all presented in searing, brilliant prose' The New York Times Book Review
'Baldwin writes with great passion ... it reeks of truth, as the ghettoes of New York and London, Chicago and Manchester reek of our hypocrisy' Sunday Times
'The great poet-prophet of the civil rights movement ... his seminal work' Guardian
Born in Harlem in 1924, James Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, social critic, and the author of more than twenty books. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay collection The Fire Next Time was a bestseller that made him an influential figure in the civil rights movement. Baldwin spent many years in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in 1987.