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UnavailableThe Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race

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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race

ratings:
4.5/5 (7 ratings)
Length:
210 pages
2 hours
Released:
Apr 19, 2018
ISBN:
9781408892596
Format:
Book

Description

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Edited by two-time National Book Award winner and Women's Prize shortlisted-author Jesmyn Ward, a timely and groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race in America


In this bestselling collection of essays and poems, Jesmyn Ward gathers a new generation of writers and thinkers to speak on race. From Claudia Rankine to Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Kiese Laymon to Carol Anderson, these voices shine a light on the darkest corners of American history, wrestle with the struggles the country faces today and imagine a better future.

Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin's groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, The Fire This Time considers the black experience in modern America. Significant progress has been made in the fifty years since Baldwin's essays were published, but America is a long distance away from a post-racial society – a truth that must be confronted if the country is to continue to work towards change.

Baldwin's 'fire next time' is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about. Sage, urgent and impassioned, this is an essential collection edited by one of America's greatest writers.
Released:
Apr 19, 2018
ISBN:
9781408892596
Format:
Book

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.


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Inside the book

Top quotes

  • First, it confirmed how inextricably interwoven the past is in the present, how heavily that past bears on the future; we cannot talk about black lives mattering or police bru- tality without reckoning with the very foundation of this country.

  • Replace ropes with bullets. Hound dogs with German shepherds. A gray uniform with a bulletproof vest. Nothing is new.

  • A place where black life has been systematically devalued for hundreds of years.


Reviews

What people think about The Fire This Time

4.6
7 ratings / 12 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    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. I strongly recommend that both books be read together (neither one is terribly long and the pair read together are a powerful combination), and I'd love to see these two books as assigned reading in high school social studies classes. The essays bring up important issues and provide perspective on prejudice in our culture. Note: I was given a free ARC of the title by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
  • (5/5)
    It's hard to imagine a stronger collection of essays, stories, and poems that reflect black lives in America since Treyvon Martin's murder. It is edited by and begins with an introduction by Jesmyn Ward, author of the brilliant Salvage the Bones. She explains her return to James Baldwin's writings and her urge to gather new voices to reach out and share the pain and the dread a half century after Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. There are so many authors new to me, along with some familiar voices. The writers visit Baldwin's home in France, and South Carolina, New Orleans, Portsmouth NH. They have genetic testing done. They discover and honor the husband of the first published black female poet, Phillis Wheatley. They call out "White Rage" for what it is, before Donald Trump embodied it. They examine Rachel Dolezal and say, "When you are black, you don't have to look like it, but you have to look at it." Outkast's music is placed on the pedestal it so richly deserves. One contributor looks for and photographs a series of Know Your Rights! murals in NYC. Each piece is a treasure, and my overall favorite is Garnette Cadogan's "Black and Blue", which explains what it's like to walk in the nighttimes of Kingston, Jamaica and the Bronx with rude boys and police standing by, waiting to take their shot. I knew of Ward's greatness, having devoured her books. Now I have 17 more writers to investigate from this remarkable collection. I dream that this group gets to travel across the country and read in a venue in every town and city.
  • (4/5)
    "To think, I remember telling my husband, our daughters will never know a world in which the president of their country has never been black. Indeed, as we watched President Obama's inauguration speech,... the world ahead for my girls seemed full of greater possibility.... Many more doors suddenly seemed open to my girls, and the 'joyous daybreak' evoked by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 'I Have a Dream' speech, a kind of jubilee, seemed to have emerged. However, it quickly became clear that this one man was not going to take all of us with him into the postracial promised land. Or that he even had full access to it. Constant talk of 'wanting him to fail' was racially tinged, as were the 'birther' investigations, and the bigoted commentaries and jokes by both elected officials and ordinary folk. Like Barack Obama's father, many of us had brought our black bodies to America from somewhere else. Some of us, like the president, were the children of such people. We are people who need to have two different talks with our black offspring: one about why we're here and the other about why it's not always a promised land for people who look like us." - Edwidge Danticat, "Message to My Daughters" My copy of this anthology is littered with post-it flags. Danticat's poignant message to her daughters is the final entry and it concludes a reading experience full of insight and challenge. The authors were asked by Jesmyn Ward to write a piece for the anthology with an eye toward the experience of living while black in America post Trayvon Martin and the dozens of other black men and women killed and denied justice by a society that fears the color of their skin and justifies violence based on that fear. Some pieces are angry, most are thoughtful and forthright and moving. Claudia Rankine's "The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning" is exquisite. "Know Your Rights!" by Emily Raboteau includes photographs of street art in various New York City neighborhoods, beautiful murals designed to educate those who walk by of their Miranda rights and their right not to be capriciously searched. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    Reading this book was an eyeopening experience. As a white woman, I sympathized with the "Black Lives Matter" movement and supported it verbally when possible, but I couldn't truly understand what it was like to live everyday in a black person's skin. This book, more than any other, gave me a hint of what that experience is like. This collection of poems, recollections, and essays was fascinating to read and digest. They gave me the perspective of looking at life through the eyes of these various black authors. Each has their own view to illustrate and share, and that is part of what I most enjoyed about the book. I loved to see what each person was going to write about and how they would use their words to open the reader's understanding and comprehension of the issues facing people of color today.Ms. Ward's purpose in collecting and sharing these works was to offer a current and varied perspective on race as a retrospective of James Baldwin's work, "The Fire Next Time". It is an incredibly timely and impactful book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who wants to better understand what it means to be black in America today. I thank the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
  • (5/5)
    This is a collection of insightful and thought-provoking essays and poems about race relations and their impact on our society in the past, present and future. This book should be in every school library and could easily be used in classrooms to look at these issues.
  • (5/5)
    Highly recommended for all Americans. So much incredible writing in this collection.
  • (4/5)
    “Though the white liberal imagination likes to feel temporarily bad about black suffering, there really is no mode of empathy that can replicate the daily strain of knowing that as a black person you can be killed for simply being black.”Using James Baldwin's landmark, The Fire Next Time, his examination of race in America, as a starting point, Jesmyn Ward has compiled a group of essays and poems from prominent writers, to show how little has changed since Baldwin wrote that piece in the early 60s and may have even accelerated, in regards to senseless police shootings of African Americans. Some of the essays are stronger than others, but they all bring their message across.
  • (5/5)
    In the Introduction to this collection of essays by an impressive roster of writers known for thoughtful and articulate discussion of their experience with race in America, Jesmyn Ward explains that she wanted something more than newspaper accounts or editorials when faced with the events of the past eighteen months in the USA. Her own book on the death of five young men of her acquaintance, Men We Reaped, meant that hearing of and seeing via public media further deaths of black men by white men was traumatic enough to want to gather friends, neighbors, and most of all, those she admires for their clarity of voice, to ask “How do we deal with this?” “How do we think about this?” “How can we stop this?”This collection references James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time which is a work that addresses the future in a letter to Baldwin’s nephew, and the past and present in an essay about religion. Ward mentions that she intended to gather the commissioned essays in three parts - Past, Present, and Future—but found that most of the essays dealt with the past because the past explains the present and impacts the future. Unless the past is acknowledged and consciously dealt with in the present, the future will always be a question mark. The essays gave Ward hope because words matter. Words help us to cope. I agree with her.The names of the writers in this collection you will recognize, and if you don’t at first, you will in the future. One name I’d never seen before wrote my favorite essay in the collection, called “Black and Blue.” Garnette Cadogan quotes Fats Waller at the start"My skin is only my skin.What did I do, to be so black and blue?"Cadogan relates his experience as a Jamaican man in the United States—how he had to learn how to dress (cop-proof and IV league), how to speak, how not to run, or make sudden movements, or wait on the streets for friends…you get the picture. His personality and behaviors had to be twisted to fit the circumstances. In a sense, this happens to all of us, wherever we move, if we want to fit in, but not like that. Not like that. And he said something I’d never heard before when considering a black man’s experience:”I always felt safer being stopped in front of white witnesses than black witnesses.”Apparently the cops have greater regard for the concern and entreaties of white witnesses than they do for black witnesses. I recall the old chant “White Silence is Violence.” Cadogan also said that “my woman friends are those who best understand my plight,” due to the fact that women are often targeted on the street by men simply because of their sex. And he said that having to be hyperaware of one’s environment before speaking, moving, acting is what children do when they are learning, returning adult males (and females) to childhood status, even in cities where they live. My brain fizzes.Claudia Rankine, poet and author of Citizen, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2015, has an essay which begins"A friend recently told me that when she gave birth to her son, before naming him, before even nursing him, her first thought was, I have to get him out of this country."I totally see where that friend of Rankine’s is coming from, and have had that same thought while reading Jill Leovy’s Ghettoside. Black men in the United States do not have enough of a childhood and they can grow, if they live long enough, gnarly and twisted by society’s expectations. This can’t be right. I’d get my son out also.All the essays were ravishing and brought me something important, like Wendy Walters’ description of the slave graves discovered under a street intersection in Portsmouth, NH. My excitement quickened to see an essay by Mitchell S. Jackson, whose first novel The Residue Years was a finalist for the Hemingway/PEN Award, the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Duncan First Novel Prize, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In his essay called “Composite Pops”, Jackson talks about male role models in a way that recalled to me Iceberg Slim. Slim was a con-man, a pimp, and a miscreant, but he had self-confidence, the push to succeed, wisdom, and love and he spread all of these around generously. I can think of a far worse father figure than he.You will recognize the names Natasha Trethewey, Poet Laureate, Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer winner in Journalism, Edwidge Danticat, Haitian novelist and MacArthur Fellow, all of whom have essays in this collection. But there will be names new to you in this remarkable collection which will open worlds you have not yet dreamed of. Once again we recognize that the work and thoughts—the words—of Jesmyn Ward bring us along, sometimes kicking and screaming in horror, to a new place of understanding. Many thanks.
  • (5/5)
    Splendid is a very apt word to describe this very timely collection of essays/poems that will sooth the soul, nourish the spirit and rouse the mind! Editor Jesmyn Ward competently gathered an illustrious group of contributors to continue the discussion/update/reflect on what James Baldwin so poignantly expressed in his 1963, “The Fire Next Time”. As I normally do with collections, I read only a story or two per day so I could savor and reflect on each contribution. As expected some of the essays/poems resounded more with me than others and there is something here for everyone. I found all of the contributions to be wonderfully potent writings expressing genuine feelings with grace and sensitivity.As I smiled, sighed, shook my head, felt outrage, diligently took notes, and occasionally called someone to read aloud a statement I knew I would not only be highly recommending this book but seeking the works of the contributors that were new to me.This is a must read for everyone and should be considered for community-wide reads and book clubs.I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.#cillasbookmanics@jesmimi@ScribnerBooks
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    As a white person, I will never fully understand what it means to be a person of color in America. The best I can do is to educate myself, and pay attention to what the people who have those experiences have to say. This is an excellent collection of essays and poems about race, inspired by James Baldwin's similarly-titled work. Highly recommended reading for all.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    From page 61: "There was a lynching every four days in the early decades of the 20th century. It's been estimated that an African American is now killed by police every two to three days."

    This collection of essays does not hide in white professional tactics of "gently breaking news to your racist neighbor". Edited by the Award-winning Jesmyn Ward, these authors of color share thoughts on race, relations, and police brutality, for people who are willing to listen and none other.

    A must-read.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    it is hard, if not I possible, for person born white to enter the skin of a person of color, to understand how they see things. No matter how sympathetic we are to their plight, no matter how regretful, we cannot see things the way they see them, experience things the way they do. These essays let me glimpse inside, showed me a little of how things have effected them, how the past has colored their future. The color divide is a wide one, I believe, though after all this time it should not be. Not sure what the answers are, nor how to fix this. Powerful essays, maybe hit me a bit harder since I am reading [book:A Lesson Before Dying5197], which is also a powerful book. Still I am grateful that these says have. further opened my eyes, furthered my understanding. ARC from publisher

    1 person found this helpful