The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

Summary

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'A seminal meditation on race by one of our greatest writers' Barack Obama


'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

©1963 James Baldwin (P)2024 Penguin Audio

Reviews

  • Riveting . . . part of Baldwin's enduring power is that he was not a political thinker. He was interested in the soul's dark spaces much more than in the body politic.
    Colm Toibin, Telegraph

About the author

James Baldwin

James Baldwin was born in 1924 in New York. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), which evokes his experiences as a boy preacher in Harlem, was an immediate success. Baldwin’s second novel, Giovanni's Room (1956) has become a landmark of gay literature and Another Country (1962) caused a literary sensation. His searing essay collections Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Nobody Knows My Name (1961) contain many of the works that made him an influential figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Baldwin published several other collections of non-fiction, including The Fire Next Time (1963) and No Name in the Street (1972). His short stories are collected in Going to Meet the Man (1965). His later works include the novels Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone (1968), If Beale Street Could Talk (1973) and Just Above My Head (1979).

James Baldwin won a number of literary fellowships: a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Partisan Review Fellowship and a Ford Foundation grant. He was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour in 1986. He died in 1987 in France
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