Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Go Tell It on the Mountain” as Want to Read:
Go Tell It on the Mountain
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Go Tell It on the Mountain

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  20,772 ratings  ·  731 reviews
Presents a semi-autobiographical exploration of the troubled life of the Grimes family in Harlem during the Depression.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 2001 by Penguin (first published 1953)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Go Tell It on the Mountain, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Go Tell It on the Mountain

The Color Purple by Alice WalkerTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale HurstonThe Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm XBeloved by Toni MorrisonInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Best African American Books
30th out of 541 books — 629 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerLord of the Flies by William GoldingThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Best Books of the Decade: 1950's
60th out of 567 books — 681 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
“On this threshing floor the child was the soul that struggled to the light, and it was the church that was in labor, that did not cease to push and pull, calling on the name of Jesus....For the rebirth of the soul was perpetual; only rebirth every hour could stay the hand of Satan.” (113)

Fourteen-year old John Grimes belongs to the Temple of the Fire Baptized, a store-front church in Harlem. In “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” published in 1952, James Baldwin tells the story of how a sensitive A
When I was vacationing in Chicago recently, I went to a used bookstore and saw some James Baldwin books. I've heard many good things about him, so I decided to get this book... an old paperback edition (not the white one pictured above) for $5.

The next morning, flipping through my stack of newly purchased books, I noticed to my amazement that this book was signed! And signed "For Jimmy". Unbelievable:

('For Jimmy or be that James: Peace, James Baldwin')

So I felt like it was fate that brought this
Wow, what a read! Where each word feels like brick in the construction of a cathedral, yet still able to ignite your emotions and transport you into the spiritual ether. With rhythms and lyricism like a new Gospel and images and themes of the Old Testament. I was surprised. I knew Baldwin was quite a voice for racist and homophobic oppression, but I didn’t know he was such a bard for the power of Protestant religion in the lives of the downtrodden. I didn’t know until after I read this that he w ...more
James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, an autobiographical novel first published in 1952, is a beautifully written exploration of religious experience in African American life, both North and South. The primary narrative covers less than 24 hours and is focused by the central character's 14th birthday and religious conversion experience. The book is divided into three sections: "The Seventh Day," which focuses on John Grimes, our 14-year-old protagonist, and his decision to turn away from h ...more

Reading this, years ago, I was struck by something I didn't think I'd be struck with.


I was reaised religious, not in anything close to the kind of religiostity he describes- visceral, pummeling, hyperintense- but pretty far-reaching and existential in my own right, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, I was throttled by the sheer force and passion and earnestness of the writing here. I've been on that threshing floor, and even as I feel self-conscious about making that claim, I'm not going
Jan 11, 2008 Phayvanh rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction, reviews
At a time when I was spirialing in self-doubt and slight depression, when I was trying to figure out life and find myself, I found this book while browsing the shelves at the San Frnacisco public librry and lived these lives with such passion and clarity I was brought back into the realm of sensousness and divinity. I read this book and felt saved. Saved from the torture of having to live life alone, from the limp mass-market suspense thrillers that were mere diversions of the soul, saved from m ...more
I'm very impressed with how self-assured and commanding Baldwin's first novel is, especially in its structure, and its gritty and poetic prose.

The author's empathy for his characters, even an extremely hypocritical one, is strong too. The difficulty of the adult characters' pasts was most compelling to me, as they can't help but look backward even as they try to forget. The bitterness of the main character's mother, on a day when she might be happy, is subtle and understandable after you know he
A great coming-of-age depicting 14 year old John's journey to conversion. The book has a strong Christian setting, with quite a few good sermons and biblical language scattered throughout it. I detested Gabriel, John's father, a hypocritical, womanizing, abusive preacher with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
J. Trott
First, this book feels like an epic and it's only two hundred and fifty pages. Second, it hurts like hell, and this is because it's too real. One line that struck me particularly was when a sister challenges her brother that his faith is fake, since all it ever did was hurt people, which is no change from who he was before conversion. I should have the book to hand and set it down, but maybe you should just read it. The obvious conclusion is that I need to read more Baldwin, but while hhis searc ...more
My 1982 Collins English dictionary does not have the word mankey. Nor does the Macquarie Dictionary. James Baldwin describes Florence's fur coat as mankey. Baldwin wrote "Go Tell it on the Mountain" in 1954, it was set in the 1930's in Harlem. Did they use the word back then? Did Baldwin time travel to now to use Urban Dictionary? It struck me as ODD and out of place.
1.The name of a white furry Pokemon with a snout.
I tried to capture a Mankey in my Pokeball, but it escaped!
2.A word used
Rereading for the LFPC group. Last read this ages ago, perhaps in my teens or early twenties. I had completely forgotten what a powerful piece of writing this is. I think I was too young to truly appreciate it.

Today I am struck by the rhythms of Baldwin's prose, the harrowing picture he paints of the individual psyche, the family dynamic and the society, all twisted by racism. I recognise the place of theology for a people making sense of the world as they find it, and of particular religious p
When I first read this book I was quite mystified by it, because I'm a very convergent thinker. It's only in maturity that I've begun, little by little & with much help from literature, to understand that people think differently from each other, contradict themselves and change their minds, and writers are able to create characters that are neither good nor evil and narratives that don't actually loud-speaker their own personal ideology. I don't have much hope for myself as a writer, but I' ...more
Barry Pierce
I feel this one just wasn't for me. I didn't engage with this novel at all. I must say that it is written very well (obviously, it's Baldwin) but the overall story and characters didn't do much for me. I'm kinda disappointed tbh, this is Baldwin's most popular novel according to Goodreads but I personally think that Giovanni's Room blows this one out of the water.
First things first: Baldwin can write his ass off; he just has a way with words that are imperceptibly profound and flow beautifully. This is a deeply religious novel and while I tend to me ambivalent towards such subject matter, I found myself challenged and also captivated by the influence Christianity has on the lives of these characters and the complex way religion drives the story about the Grimes family as each member struggles with their faith in seeking salvation. An engrossing coming-of ...more
Nov 27, 2007 Bookchica rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in african-american literature, american classics
Go Tell It On The Mountain is a very bold book. In an era when "Ebonics" had not been coined yet, when being black was not every white kids style, James Baldwin stayed so true to the African-American colloquialism. James Baldwin has written with complete truthfulness and self-questioning this parable of finding yourself, finding your belief, finding your God. Are these even different things, or is it one? It is this honesty which keeps you engrossed. Whether you'll end up loving this book or not ...more
El Habib Louai
I read this fabulous emotion-filled novel in my last year of the university when I was getting ready for a master's degree in Race,Alterity and Post-colonial discourse. I loved it so much and I was amazed essentially by its sincere description of internal black American feelings towards the growing power of a fake religious father.I loved this novel for its uneasiness while it develops with the sentimentality of the protagonist as he was contrasted to his brother.
This is one of those experiences I'll have to digest, so I won't write my thoughts now other than to acknowledge the quality of the story. I have to look at why I don't like evangelizing, sermonizing, preaching or too much religion in Literature or any fiction. I also have to examine why I dislike the use of too many rhetorical questions, especially religious rhetorical questions in this book.
I tend to get confused with a story jumping back and forth between generations, trying to keep track of
Colin Hogan
I was disappointed with this book. When I first started reading it, there was something queer about the main character John. That got me interested. He didn't fit in with his family or his community, and in his wandering around the city, I thought he was going to cast out on his own, building some kind of new existence.

That didn't happen, and maybe I was a bit naive in wanting it. After finishing, I thought about the open environments for a black man in this time period, and obviously, there we
أحمد أبازيد Ahmad Abazed
عن الجنس و العنصريّة و الدين , في مزيج من حياة بالدوين نفسه و من معاناة الأمريكان السود و تقاليد الكنيسة , و شخصيّات يتصارعها الخطيئة و الطهارة , و إن كانت في صراعاتها مستغرقةً في الوحل , و معظم الرواية ذكريات أمام مذبح الكنيسة , و تحت وقع الترانيم
leslie nikole
Read the book more than ten times, had to buy it after the library told me I couldn't take it out anymore. Absolutely loved it.
If you are religious, or ever have been, read this book. It’s the story of a pentecostal family and their relationship with our good friend Human Nature. The conflict between onset righteousness brought on by experiences of religious euphoria and our tendency to act on our base desires is richly and fairly represented on both sides of the spectrum. The fluid way the story spans places and generations and the biblical rhythm it’s in told in draws you in and holds your attention. It is layered eno ...more
Vincent Odhiambo
Read some passages out loud for the sheer beauty of Baldwin's lyrical prose. I will read this book over and over again.
what can you say - this man- a writer, an magician, a philosopher ..........
Interpretation can be everything. The subjectivity involved in the interpretation of life becomes an individual’s reality. Interpretation is also a process of discovery. Done right, discovery incorporates an open minded approach to life. This applies to politics, culture, religion, career, etc. How you perceive your world and what you perceive its meaning to be becomes your motivation, inspiration, aspiration and perspiration.

Religion and scripture are the perfect illustration of how interpretat
In The Amen Corner, Sister Margaret told her mutinous congregation that she had finally learned what it means to love the Lord. Loving the Lord means loving those around you.

From the tone and style of the text alone in Go Tell It On The Mountain, the reader instantly knows how potently church culture effects Baldwin. Many Americans, from a secular or religious point of view, might consider John's experience as superficial. Yet Baldwin hones such a sharpness and heavy style throughout the work th
Jennifer Spiegel
I know it’s crazy, but I’m too emotionally attached to tell you exactly how I feel about this book. I will say this: I’m pretty sure it’ll be the best book I’ll read this year. I’ve read it before, but it was when I was young and dumb—and, no doubt, one-dimensional in my reading. I’m sure that my White Kid with Big Ideas and Bookish Instincts allowed me to see that the book was well-written (Are You Going To Deny That? You Are Not) and that it was about, in part, racism. Enough said.

So I just re
Peter Mcloughlin
I grew up in comfortable circumstances and the spiritual world of the Catholicism I imbibed was equally comfortable. In my childhood Hell was rarely discussed and the devil was more a comedic idea like John Lovitz portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live. The closest Devil or hell ever came to being scary was in movies like "the Exorcist" and "the omen" which to me were really just a form of paranormal science fiction. James Baldwin' " Go tell it on the mountain" reminds me that many people get ...more
Maryam Talakoob
The power of Baldwin's descriptive pen is mighty. It's mind blowing. He is so philosophical, so observent that I cannot even compare him to anything I have ever read before. Baldwin's pains are so well written through each character o his book. He describes the African American church so well it feels like you are really present in the praying sessions. The poor man has have been heavily indoctrinated at such a young age that he expressed his story with such great authority and knowledge. The mo ...more
I don't know how authentic the setting and the language is in the book, as I have no knowledge of that culture, but reading this book was a very different and interesting experience. Some parts of it were trying. Not because they were boring, but because of the unfamiliar content. it is difficult to completely grasp the characters.

The characters' interactions with the Church and its ways have been narrated splendidly. I nice read for anyone who likes characters more than plot.
Curtis Ackie
I was deeply affected by this book, since so much of it was familiar, and not just the issues of race and identity but also the way it illustrated what it can be like to grow up in an oppressive Christian environment. I’d previously only known James Baldwin through footage of him on youtube (such as this video:, but this book gave me a hunger to read more of his work.
Also, Arthur Schlesinger’s words on the back of this edition actually made me laugh. Accord
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement
  • Loving
  • Studs Lonigan
  • Zuleika Dobson
  • The Death of the Heart
  • Call it Sleep
  • The Wapshot Chronicle
  • The Old Wives' Tale
  • The Day of the Locust
  • The Adventures of Augie March
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • Under the Net
  • A Death in the Family
  • Dog Soldiers
  • U.S.A. (U.S.A., #1-3)
  • A House for Mr Biswas
  • An American Tragedy
  • The Assistant
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.

James Baldwin offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and '60s. The eldest of nine children, his stepfather was a minister. At age 14, Bal
More about James Baldwin...
Giovanni's Room The Fire Next Time Notes of a Native Son Another Country If Beale Street Could Talk

Share This Book

“But to look back from the stony plain along the road which led one to that place is not at all the same thing as walking on the road; the perspective to say the very least, changes only with the journey; only when the road has, all abruptly and treacherously, and with an absoluteness that permits no argument, turned or dropped or risen is one able to see all that one could not have seen from any other place.” 19 likes
“There are people in the world for whom "coming along" is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arrive.” 13 likes
More quotes…