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Another Country

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  6,433 ratings  ·  517 reviews
After Rufus Scott, an embittered and unemployed black jazz-musician commits suicide, his sister Ida and old friend Vivaldo become lovers. Yet their feelings for each other are complicated by Rufus's friends, especially the homosexual actor Eric Jones who has been Vivaldo's lover.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published 1962)
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Maurice by E.M. ForsterBrokeback Mountain by Annie ProulxThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGiovanni's Room by James BaldwinTales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Best Gay Fiction
40th out of 1,128 books — 1,417 voters
Another Country by James BaldwinGiovanni's Room by James BaldwinThe Fire Next Time by James BaldwinGo Tell It on the Mountain by James BaldwinNotes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Best of James Baldwin
1st out of 22 books — 39 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mary
All for the first time, in the days when acts had no consequences and nothing was irrevocable, and love was simple and even pain had the dignity of enduring forever. It was unimaginable that time could do anything to diminish it.

But it was only love which could accomplish the miracle of making a life bearable – only love, and love itself mostly failed.

This is not a love story.

It was fitting that I read Another Country while camped out under the air conditioner or sweltering in the park or seeki
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Elijah Spector
They were not cursing something they longed for and feared, they were joking about something they longed for and loved.
p. 104

Whenever I read something that's been accepted as a "classic" or "masterpiece" there's always a part of me that wants to just kinda like it, or actively dislike it, just so that I can be that voice of dissent, so I don't feel like I'm blindly loving what everyone else loves. I want to be someone who really thinks about what I'm reading and doesn't take it at the value that
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Oko
I don't even know where to begin with Another Country.....

This book showed me myself in ways I had never imagined a book could....I mean talk about intense, raw, truth, hurt, love, booze, swinging, and every other action that connects all human beings...

I am 21 years old, and to think that December 10th if this year will mark the 50th Anniversary of this book is mind-blowing to me.

I first have to start with Rufus Scott....I have never had a character in fiction who was complex, and damaged that
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Didi
It’s the late fifties in New York and Another Country begins following the ineffaceable Rufus Scott. He’s a jazz musician whose luck seems to have run out. From there the story of Another Country unfolds in three parts to uncover artists on their journey to survive life among racial unrest, misguided friendships, vacillating sexuality, societal pressures, and all while discovering a myriad of unlikable, flawed characters.

Another Country is a slow burn of a story that will suck you in and keep yo
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Vince
May 27, 2008 Vince rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Great Literature
A relentless, searching, profound novel. Much is dated, but that's okay for readers such as I, with anthropological tendencies, i.e., old Times Square hustler argot, 50s slang -- but AC also fills in the gaps, it shows how thing were done then, the whites who went to (gasp!), private negro jazz improvs, 50s publishing circles, etc.

The structure as mentioned, is innovative: the loss of a person seen through a cast of characters who run the gamut; literarary, successful, unsuccessful, rich, poor,
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Jesse
Wow. Just... wow. Kind of weird—my reaction is not declare Another Country a new favorite, I just didn't love it in that way. And yet, and yet, it penetrated deeply, perhaps more deeply than some books I do consider my favorite...

Perhaps this has to do with how perplexing Baldwin is as an author—it takes a while, almost too much effort to get into the story, and then suddenly, unexpectedly you're in an ever-tightening vice, not sure how the hell Baldwin got you there before you even managed to n
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MJ Nicholls
Oct 07, 2013 MJ Nicholls marked it as half-read
200pp read. Fed up. Fed and up. Enough of this popular-classic pootling. I am planning a triumphant return to the brave and beautiful borders of the avant-garde. I will be raiding the archives of the following pioneers: Soft Skull, Dzanc Books, Green Integer, Coffee House Press, David R. Godine, NYRB, New Directions, FC2 and—all together now!—Dalkey Archive. I cordially invite you to leave the names of any daring experimental fiction presses that have escaped my attention in the comment box, and ...more
Adam
Set in 1960s New York City bohemia, “Another Country” cuts into the white liberal psyche and reveals the destruction that benevolent racist actions cause to blacks. It also tells stories of how blacks cope with internalized racism, the desire to love whites, and the violence they find themselves committing against them. “Another Country” is an amazing title. It is a metaphor for the territory of other people that characters struggle to love. Traditional heterosexual, interracial, and homosexual ...more
Barry Pierce
Such an excellent novel. This is Baldwin's Ulysses. A cast of genius and memorable characters, impeccable prose, and such relentless realism makes this the brilliant novel that it is. Baldwin has outdone himself by writing this novel. Just flawless.
Brian Gatz
This book embarrasses any number of writers who think themselves serious in matters of love, sex, poverty, art, or race--I'm not going to name names, but both sides of the Atlantic have in recent years given us writers who think that the upper-middle class satisfy all confrontations on these matters, whether as artist of subject matter. Baldwin possesses a degree of integrity that would be laughable were it not so grounded both in subject matter as well as quality of writing. In another's hand, ...more
Alex
On the short list of best books I've ever read. I gulped it down in 3 days staying with my great-aunt in France, and the emotional intensity literally would not let me put it down. I found it difficult to analyze it on a thematic level, because the immediacy of the prose grips you with the sharp phenomenology of reality. The book feels more "true" to me than almost any I have read, not necessarily because of what happens, but because of how truthfully and clearly the experience of life is render ...more
Carolyn
Here are thoughts I wrote down when I first read this:

"About 100 pages left on the James Baldwin.. all this reading about love and sex has got me in a damn weird mood. I'm thinking, first of all, that I have never connected with anyone in the way that he's describing..in the sense of feeling somebody's moods as they speak, or noting when atmosphere changes with a group of people. Or maybe I do, but the terms are so thoroughly modern that it's just incomparable."

"Finished Another Country. Painful
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graham
According to this writer, "[James:] Baldwin considered race America’s poison pill. And he deftly portrayed Americans of all colors struggling to concoct their own individual antidotes—solutions that are temporary at best and always crazy-making because, at root, the problem is structural not individual." Uh, yep.

His books fuck me up pretty badly. Another Country had me reeling for weeks. I'm probably repeating years-old book reviews in saying so (and I'm sure the impact was much different, this
...more
Jasmine
Nov 04, 2014 Jasmine marked it as to-read
I've just watched the historic debate between James Baldwin versus William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University in 1965. Baldwin's eloquent speech reminded me that I really have to start reading his work. Most impressive.
Joseph Nicolello
In the words of John Waters:

"I've never understood people who say reading helps them sleep. When I really get into a book I don't get any sleep at all."

Some of the last Baldwin I haven't read. Put it off for awhile. Now is, has been, absolute perfect timing.

-------

"It's all just about as messy as it can be," Eric said, after a moment.

Although unfinished, I find myself at the slimmest, final part of the book - Toward Bethlehem - after just being recommended Slouching Toward Bethlehem, from a libr
...more
Tananarive Due
I love Baldwin's writing style, but this novel has been in my bathroom (read: "library") for months, and I'm only making progress a few pages at a time. An original paperback copy sat in my office for years before that. I was curious about a novel featuring mostly white characters--and it's very well-written, but I have had some trouble engaging over the long term.

ADDENDUM: I'm a softie. I'll just get that out. So I'm giving this book five stars although I suspect it might only deserve four...b
...more
Ensiform
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lydia
Oct 28, 2014 Lydia added it
Shelves: 2014, favourites
Guys. Guys. Guys, Baldwin is a genius. This book has only increased how much I love him.
Melody Mejeh
Dec 04, 2013 Melody Mejeh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Geoff
I loved this book. I'm an avid James Baldwin reader and this book is not without the piercing vulnerability and intense realism within conflict that Baldwin is so notably known for. It takes place in Manhattan in late sixties. Beneath the radical liberalness that defines the time, Baldwin populates his diverse characters–straight and gay, black and white, into a world of racial consciousness. The first fifth of the novel tells of the downfall of jazz drummer Rufus Scott, who is with too much sou ...more
Andrew Asibong
I just finished reading Another Country for the first time in over 15 years (I first read it when I was 19). It was a strange experience. Whilst there were no surprises left for me plot-wise (and this is a novel which, from start to finish, is relentlessly shocking in terms of the unexpected events it throws at the unsuspecting reader), I still found myself amazed by the book's sheer emotional honesty and intelligence. I don't think I've ever read anything that is so utterly *lucid* about what i ...more
Justine
Baldwin is my favorite author. Period. He doesn't write characters or plots.... he writes people. Lives. And as I've read through his books over the years, some stories I have absolutely loved, while I've had trouble connecting with others.

Another Country is beautiful. Baldwin's words and language are masterful. But in comparing this novel to some of his others that I am absolutely in love with, I walked away from Another Country with mixed feelings. It's the only book that has ever made me cry.
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LS
Wow! This book reads like he did take ten years to write it. It is intense. Almost every time I finished one of the numbered sections I felt as if I had finished an entire book and I had that delightful feeling of 'But wait, there's more!' Personally I think _Another Country_ deserves a Nobel Prize in Literate. The intensity pretty much never lets up. It is definitely not a fluffy book there are no breaks. The characters always go "there". Baldwin is amazingly insightful about intimacy and huma ...more
Paul Gleason
Baldwin's writing is incredible - and no one captures the rage hidden beneath the painted veil of the American Dream like he does.

I can't give Another Country the review it most likely deserves, however, because the book is very much of its time. Despite its presentation of the institutionalized racism and violence that continue to this day, the book seems locked in the 1960s and a realistic approach to writing that doesn't make sense - to me, at least - right now.

This is probably my fault as a
...more
Kat
Jul 28, 2007 Kat rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Most of my friends who also love Baldwin think this book is not structurally sound. Fine. But it has the most interesting women characters he ever wrote, and there are true, beautiful moments of dialogue that take care of its craft flaws. It depends on what kind of reader you are.
Linda
Something about Baldwin's writing doesn't quite work for me and I wasn't sure what it was until I read this book; it's the centrality of male pain. Despite what Ida goes through, it's Rufus' death that is privileged, Rufus' hardship that shapes how Ida views her life, more than her own experiences. It's Rufus' death that is the crux of Baldwin's condemnation of America. The only character who dislikes Rufus for beating up his white southern girlfriend is Richard, the least sympathetic, least fle ...more
Nicholas Ochiel
Jan 03, 2015 Nicholas Ochiel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nicholas by: Akati
A deep and far-sighted examination of the brutal contradictions and harrowing tragedies that are inherent to romantic love. Romantic love, after all, under current conditions, is defined and experienced most often in terms of its failures, and it's never clear what successful romantic relations might even be. It is only fitting, then, that the book opens with a black man's suicide. (Just as Toni Morrison's Jazz begins, in a sense, with a married man shooting dead the young woman who was once his ...more
Jericha
I'm not easily enticed into unconditional praise, but I've never read anything quite like this, and I'm still sort of astonished by how masterful - and not just masterful, deep-down-in-the-bones good, compelling, harsh, beautiful - Another Country was.

In the end, what really broke me open was Baldwin's extraordinary ability to tell the story of such different people - straight and gay, white and black, male and female - with equal empathy for their very different forms of suffering. I've never
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Patrick
It’s an odd thing when you are reading a book and really enjoying it and then you go online to read about the history of the author and the context around the book and you discover that actually other people have come at it totally differently and that it isn’t regarded as one of the author’s best works or even a particularly important book in its own right. Such was my experience here; the ready availability of all this extra contextual information shaped my interpretation of this novel from so ...more
Billy
With decades of dedicated effort in developing my craft, along with 99 percent more talent than the gods and genes and circumstances saw fit to bestow, perhaps I could theoretically write something like The Corrections or A Gate at the Stairs. But I am completely certain that even altering all those variables, I could never produce something as bracingly alive as this. I have no idea (and won't until immediately after hitting "save" on this review) what others think of this; whether it's seminal ...more
Lia
What wonderful writing. The scene-setting paragraphs I normally skim over are crisply evocative and brilliantly inventive, with the kind of originality that feels old and right.

The main action of this novel is in changing relationships - it's a plot I would happily dismiss if it had been written differently - but instead I was totally hooked. Baldwin's characters are ordinary yet intriguing, I guess because he goes so deep within each one. He deftly observes the psychological and political conte
...more
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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
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More about James Baldwin...
Go Tell It on the Mountain Giovanni's Room The Fire Next Time Notes of a Native Son If Beale Street Could Talk

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“People don't have any mercy. They tear you limb from limb, in the name of love. Then, when you're dead, when they've killed you by what they made you go through, they say you didn't have any character. They weep big, bitter tears - not for you. For themselves, because they've lost their toy.” 193 likes
“We all commit our crimes. The thing is to not lie about them -- to try to understand what you have done, why you have done it. That way, you can begin to forgive yourself. That's very important. If you don't forgive yourself you'll never be able to forgive anybody else and you'll go on committing the same crimes forever.” 26 likes
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