Category Archives: James Baldwin

About Those Book Lists…

A few people have asked me to join the daisy chains of listing favorite books, and things I’m grateful for. Total silence on my part. It took me a while to sort of figure out not listing books.

I think it’s that I connect books and context in ways that are part of their significance for me. James Baldwin somehow suffuses my life at moments expected and unexpected, the essays above all, but Sonny’s Blues, and some of the novels at times. images-1

I developed food cravings while pregnant all those years ago, but I also found
myself devouring every word by Edith Wharton I could get my hands on.


Or being a student wandering rather aimlessly around Europe reading Penguin editions – Alberto Moravia, Amis pere, and not Penguin, but volumes of the Alexandria Quartet on trains, and on Ibiza when it was only mildly decadent.










At a black lit. conference at Yale years back, we passed around the single copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God that was available to us, and looked at each other with “wild surmise.” It’s like that.

As for gratitude: beyond all imagining.


Baldwin, Mankewietz . . . and then everybody else on the panel

That's How The Light Gets In


‘Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.’
– Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail

‘That day, for a moment, it almost seemed that we stood on a height, and could see our inheritance: perhaps we could make the kingdom real, perhaps the beloved community would not forever remain that dream we dreamed in agony.’
– James Baldwin

I’ve been reading Guardian writer Gary Younge’s new book The Speech: The Story behind Martin Luther King’s Dream, published to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of 28 August 1963. It was a book I had to read, because the summer of 1963 radicalised me and defined my politics for the rest of my life.

In that regard, I was brought up short by Younge’s observation early on in his book that in its immediate aftermath, it was…

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