The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race (Hardcover) by Jesmyn Ward
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.
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.