Writing for Publishers Weekly, William J. Maxwell examines the 1,884-page FBI file on James Baldwin—the longest on record—as part of his effort to obtain surveillance information on African American authors through the Freedom of Information Act. Along with reports on literary giants like Lorraine Hansberry and Amiri Baraka, Baldwin’s file reveals a complex relationship between Hoover’s office and the authors, characterized by intermittent respect for the literary work and a healthy fear of the writers’ standing as leaders of the black community....more
Posts Tagged: James Baldwin
Some story collections drop with fireworks and great fanfare, while others make their entrance, it could be said, on tender feet. The latter is the case with the works of Edith Pearlman, who released her fifth story collection, Honeydew, on Tuesday....more
Art has to be a confession. I don’t mean a true confession in the sense of that dreary magazine. The effort, it seems to me, is: if you can examine and face your life, you can discover the terms with which you are connected to other lives, and they can discover, too, the terms with which they are connected to other people.
Combining The Exorcist, New Jersey, and James Baldwin, among other things, Nick Ripatrazone reviews William Giraldi’s new novel, Hold the Dark, at The Millions. He contemplates Giraldi’s place in contemporary Catholic literature, using his fiction, alongside Cormac McCarthy’s and Christopher Beha’s, to draw larger claims on religion, the manifestations of Satan, and realism....more
In an interview with The New Yorker, Graywolf poet Claudia Rankine discusses Ferguson, James Baldwin, and the experience of invisibility:
“[T]he sort of execution-style shooting takes [Michael Brown’s shooting] to this whole other place that starts approaching the language of lynching, and public lynching, and bodies in the street that people are walking around.”
To review the events in Ferguson, see The Rumpus roundup....more
The news of Michael Brown’s death cannot be ignored. When one of our young people dies from shots fired by a police officer, there will be sadness and confusion. There will inevitably be questions, and questions left unanswered will lead to anger. This is a week, perhaps, when we need fiction and art to help us try to make sense of who we are and where we go from here....more
The Partisan Review, printed from 1934 to 2004, marked 69 years of cultural history in the US, with notable contributors such as Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Franz Kafka, Doris Lessing, George Orwell, Marge Piercy, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roger Shattuck, Susan Sontag, William Styron, Lionel Trilling, and Robert Penn Warren....more
But what I loved most about Baldwin’s writing was that he didn’t make me feel, as a young white guy, that I had no right to be thriving on his work and taking it all so personally… I could see my large family and myself mirrored in the world of James Baldwin’s fiction.
Happy birthday to James Baldwin, who would have been 89 today.
A pioneering author of fiction, essays, plays, and poetry, Baldwin explored what it meant to be black and gay long before such themes became acceptable to the mainstream.
He left behind a legacy of bravery and political activism, as well as classic works like Go Tell It on the Mountain and Giovanni’s Room....more