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The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (Books 2021, 1)

It looks as if I haven’t read anything yet this year. That’s far from true, of course, but this is the first book-length work I’ve finished. Though that ‘book-length’ is extremely deceptive, as it’s very short.

I read it for my course — specifically the Creative Nonfiction module that I’m doing this term. It’s a powerful statement about the position of Black people in America in the early 60s, when it was written. Things have sadly not changed much.

In terms of presentation, it’s a little odd. It’s titled as two letters: one to his nephew, and another ‘from a region in my mind.’ The first is short, and does read as if it were a letter. The second, not so much.

It’s more of a personal essay, combining memoir and political analysis. It shows a great deal of empathy, both for Black people and the white majority in his country. And it ends with a note of hope, that America can still become the country it claimed to be. I wonder what he’d think of things now.

Both parts are available at those links, so you don’t even have to buy it if you want to check it out, which you should.

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