Poet Safiya Sinclair, author of Cannibal, takes part in the Kenyon Review Conversation series with insight into race in America from a Jamaican’s point of view. Living in a white academic bubble in Charlottesville, VA, immersing herself in slavery-era texts and James Baldwin, she describes how she discovered the ways racism is reduced to the symbolic and coded into language—“hidden in plain sight.” “For example:” she says, “Why is the name ‘killer bee’ interchangeable with ‘Africanized bee’?… coded language makes its way into our vernacular, often shielded under the unimpeachable banner of science.”...more
Posts Tagged: James Baldwin
Race was—is—the fundamental American issue, underlying not only all matters of public policy (economic inequality, criminal justice, housing, education) but the very psyche of the nation.
Nathaniel Rich, for the New York Review of Books, writes a loving tribute to and overview of the works of James Baldwin: the intellectual as impossible to be pinned down, writing transcendently about the present....more
I came to her place to take a picture of Baldwin’s typewriter. This is what I told her. But I think I also came because I wanted to see someone who is his flesh and blood. I wanted to see that he was really theirs, their Uncle Jimmy.
Memoir, the offspring of the slave narrative, is not simply a form within the Black literary tradition; it has thoroughly shaped that tradition.
It’s more Baldwin understood that if you are going to say something important about the world it is best if you try to say it beautifully.
For the Millions, Philip Graham considers how childhood traumas can inspire art. In his exploration, Graham looks to works by John Gardner, Rabih Alameddine, and James Baldwin, authors who confront “psychic wounds” and use writing as a method of healing:
We writers are used to looking back, locating in our rough drafts any glimmer that might show the way forward.
Fiction has always evoked pictures and provoked ideas and sounds in my mind. James Baldwin, who was a powerful writer of fiction and non-fiction was a haunted witness of American dysfunction.
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
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