National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.
In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin’s 1962 “Letter to My Nephew,” which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time. Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote: “You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.”
Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward knows that Baldwin’s words ring as true as ever today. In response, she has gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she has turned to some of her generation’s most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns.
The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future. Of the eighteen pieces, ten were written specifically for this volume.
In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a “post-racial” society is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about.
Contributors include Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and has received the MacArthur Genius Grant, a Stegner Fellowship, a John and Renee Grisham Writers Residency, and the Strauss Living Prize. She is the winner of two National Book Awards for Fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017) and Salvage the Bones (2011). She is also the author of the novel Where the Line Bleeds and the memoir Men We Reaped, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and the Media for a Just Society Award. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University and lives in Mississippi.
Table of Contents
"The Tradition" Jericho Brown 1
Introduction Jesmyn Ward 3
Part I Legacy
Homegoing, AD Kima Jones 15
The Weight Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah 19
Lonely in America Wendy S. Walters 33
Where Do We Go from Here? Isabel Wilkerson 59
"The Dear Pledges of Our Love": A Defense of Phillis Wheatley's Husband Honorée Fanonne Jeffers 63
White Rage Carol Anderson 83
Cracking the Code Jesmyn Ward 89
Part II Reckoning
Queries of Unrest Clint Smith 99
Blacker Than Thou Kevin Young 101
Da Art of Storytellin' (a Prequel) Kiese Laymon 117
Black and Blue Garnette Cadogan 129
The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning Claudia Rankine 145
Know Your Rights! Emily Raboteau 157
Composite Pops Mitchell S. Jackson 179
Part III Jubilee
Theories of Time and Space Natasha Trethewey 195
This Far: Notes on Love and Revolution Daniel José Older 197
Message to My Daughters Edwidge Danticat 205