James Baldwin Archive

Reading Baldwin after Harvey: Why Climate Change is a Social Justice Issue

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Of course, the circumstances between Hurricane Harvey and the 1943 Harlem riots are different, but the fault lines exposed by those events are not.

Big Picture, Small Picture: Context for James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

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James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues,” is published in the summer 1957 edition of the New York City literature magazine, Partisan Review. The story’s narrator is a high school teacher from Harlem struggling to reconcile his relationship with his younger brother, Sonny, a jazz pianist hooked on heroin.

Why Latinx Writers Should Decenter the Narratives That Have Been Weaponized Against Us

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Just last week, I received maybe the first piece of editorial advice that I felt compelled to flat out reject: that Latinx writers have a moral obligation to not write stories in which Latinx characters are portrayed in the context of the drug war or violence or anything else

12 Books To Help You Survive 2017 And the Trump Era

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Many of us will need to cope with, resist, or try to understand (or all of the above) Trump in 2017. So, below are 12 books—one per month—that can help with those unexpected projects.

What Country?

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In a 2001 Penguin introduction to the novel, Colm Tóibín writes: “In Another Country, Baldwin created the essential American drama of the century.” Baldwin’s novel is rife with symbols of life in the USA: jazz, cocktails, the movies, and the idea of “making it.” It’s a story of searching

Writ in Water: Millimeters to the End of the World

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How do you write about the end of the world? Or avoiding the apocalypse? The drying up of our water or our adaptation to living with less? How do you imagine—and make real—global superstorms and cities swallowed by the sea and the hottest summers on record?

Reading in a Brown Body

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During my first week of college, at the University of Iowa, several of us students were playing cards in my dorm room, when, unrelated to the game or to the conversation, one of the other freshmen asked me, “What are you?”

My Uncle’s Books

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A year and a half ago, my uncle Chuck died unexpectedly. My family wanted me to have his books because I was a reader like he had been, and I was also a writer. And I wanted the books, especially his Library of America books.

“Why not now go towards the things I love?”: The Aftermath of Being Queer

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Some part of me broke last Sunday. I kept scrolling this week through the news articles that listed the victims of the Orlando massacre, the pain in my heart growing with each name. It seems we’re being denied time and space to mourn.

Booze, Books, and Boys: Literary Friendships Throughout History

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Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker Oscar Wilde was the son of Lady Jane, an eclectic socialite who collected artists like trophies. Bram Stoker was a frequent feature in her Saturday night salons, although the two met at a young age and were fast friends through the rest of their