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22gigantes.com - 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.
Best Review of The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race:
Most helpful customer reviews 3 of 3 people found the following review helpful. Have you read "Between the World & Me"? Read this next. By Englewood of Books If you have read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ National Book Award-winning BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, this new collection of reflections on race by some of the finest writers working today should be next on your reading list. Contributors include editor Jesmyn Ward (also a National Book Award-winner), former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, and novelist Edwidge Danticat. THE FIRE THIS TIME, inspired by James Baldwin’s THE FIRE NEXT TIME, aims to be a “book that would reckon with the fire of despair and rage and fierce, protective love currently sweeping through the streets and campuses of America. A book that would gather new voices in one place … to dissent, to call to account, to witness, to reckon.” This work succeeds in all these things that it sets out to do, and more. It is a gripping lament of the past and present of the racial situation in the U.S., as well as a cautiously hopeful look toward the future. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful. Powerful and Relevant By dictionaryfan This book is a must read for anyone who wants insight into the status of race relations in the US today. It was designed as a response to James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, which was published in 1962 and is still as relevant today as it was then. While there have been some improvements, there haven't been nearly enough. One of the aspects of the book that I enjoyed was the use of stories and how these demonstrated the strong hold that the past has on our present. Simply because it's behind us doesn't mean that its gone.Some of the essays in this volume reflect upon the past, while others discuss current events, and a few look to the future. All of the pieces are well-written narratives on the different ways that racism has impacted our culture. Too often we view prejudice as something that happens in other corners of our country, but like the experience that Wendy Walter's described in her essay on looking for one of the oldest negro burial sites in America: we discover that it's right beneath us and we've been driving over it without noticing the whole time.Note: I was given a free ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 0 of 0 people found the following review helpful. "My only sin is my skin, ... What did I do, to be so black and blue?" By W Perry Hall "My only sin is my skin, ... What did I do, to be so black and blue?"Fats Waller, "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue?""The title of this choric collection of prismatic prose and poetry convoking for equality, compassion and freedom from fear, written by some of today's prominent and talented African-American writers, derives from the title of James Baldwin's groundbreaking The Fire Next Time which he ended with the fiery memorable passage:"If we...the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of others--do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by the slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!"I will never know the pain and fear and rage felt by African-Americans, including the artists who contributed pieces to this innovative anthology full of timely contributions to the current critical conversation on racial relations in the U.S. Nonetheless, if this book can be a bridge to better, fuller understanding by me (which, I think, it most definitely is) and others similarly situated, such a comprehension of the unknown being, after all, one of the main goals of artists and writers, then maybe it will help us all play some part in changing ourselves and perhaps the world for the common good.__________________________________"Be the change, you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi.“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy__________________________________Jesmyn Ward, the editor and an author of parts of this book, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones. She begins the book with her hope that:"this book makes each one of you, dear readers, feel as if we are sitting together, you and me and Baldwin and... all the serious, clear-sighted writers here--and that we are composing our story together. That we are writing an epic wherein black lives carry a worth, wherein black boys can walk to the store and buy candy without thinking they will die, wherein black girls can have a bad day and be mouthy without being physically assaulted by a police officer, wherein cops see twelve-year-old black boys playing with fake guns as silly kids and not homicidal maniacs, wherein black women can stop to ask for directions without being shot in the face by paranoid white homeowners.I burn, and I hope."Ms. Ward grew up about an hour from me. She wrote an affecting essay entitled "Cracking the Code," which really made me think about many of us in the United States who don't really know their full ancestry, including me, how this country is truly a melting pot, as it reminded me of how ridiculous and hateful it is that some people still judge others by the color of their skin. In it, she discusses a relatively inexpensive genetic testing company called 23andMe, that she and some other family members used not long ago to find out their ancestry. She grew up as "black" but her dad looked as much Native American as black, and she has relatively light skin for an African-American. Anyway, she talks about how she felt upon finding out that's she's more European than sub-Saharan African; specifically, 40% European-mix of British, Irish, French, German, Scandinavian, Iberian, Italian, and Ashkenazi-- 32% sub-Saharan African, a quarter Native American and less than 1% North African.Another essay I found particularly thought-provoking, in a book full of poignant essays and verse, was one called "Blacker Than Thou," by Kevin Young, considering the question of Rachel Dolezal:"It would be one thing...if in her house, to her pillow or family, Dolezal said she felt black... It’s when that somehow translates to what she does, when she teaches black studies as if she’s a black person—not a teacher, but a mind reader—that it becomes a problem. She wears the mask not to hide but to gain authority over the very thing she claims to want to be. How very white of her!"This anthology has improved my understanding on matters of race and thus effected a change in me. I highly recommend it for anyone seeking to gain different perspectives on race and racial relations in our current political climate.____________________________________________________"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” MLK, Jr. See all 4 customer reviews...
“A half century ago James Baldwin, the prophet in the American wilderness, delivered The Fire Next Time—as complex a reckoning with race, morality and human nature as we have seen. Jesmyn Ward has pulled together in this collection you now hold the incisive, sage, angry and deeply complex voices of a new generation, responding to many of the same questions that confronted us in 1963. To Baldwin's call we now have a choral response—one that should be read by every one of us committed to the cause of equality and freedom.”—Jelani Cobb, historian “In 1963, we were poised on a precipice, intellectually, spiritually, politically primed for the change we knew had to come. Now, some half century later, we are again at the precipice. We are dismayed and disheartened to find ourselves here, aghast that the rules and players have changed but the game, somehow, is the same. What do we do, this post Civil Rights generation, in the face of the same injustice, dressed in different clothes, coded in different laws? In The Fire This Time, a new generation of black writers speak with the ‘fierce urgency of now.’”—Ayana Mathis, novelist “Fires destroy things…burns them up…makes ashes for us all…But fires also keep us warm…give us a glow to sit by…to tell ancestry stories to the children against the rhythmic crackle of history…to make love to against the glow. The generation of segregations gave us The Fire Next Time…we broke down those walls…The generation after segregation gives us the water to mix with the ashes to build…something…anything all…in the words of Margaret Walker…our own. This is a book to pick up and tuck under our hearts to see what we can build.”—Nikki Giovanni, poet "Timely contributions to an urgent national conversation." —Kirkus s "An absolutely indispensable anthology." —Booklist (starred review) "Ward's remarkable achievement is the gift of freshly minted perspectives on a tale that may seem old and twice told. Readers in search of conversations about race in America should start here." —Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Groundbreaking." —Library Journal About the Author Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her BA and MA from Stanford University and her MFA from the University of Michigan where she received five Hopwood Awards. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her first novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Her second novel, Salvage the Bones, won the 2011 National Book Award and the Alex Award and was a finalist for the Indies Choice Fiction Honor Award, the NYPL Young Lions Literary Award, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her memoir, Men We Reaped, won the Media for a Just Society Award and the Heartland Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Indies Choice Nonfiction Honor Award, and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. The American Academy of Arts and Letters selected Ward for the 2016 Strauss Living Award, a prize given every five years to enable authors to take time off from teaching and focus exclusively on writing. Ward is currently at work on her third novel and is an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University. She lives in Mississippi.
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