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Another Country

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  8,811 Ratings  ·  742 Reviews
When Another Country appeared in 1962, it caused a literary sensation. James Baldwin's masterly story of desire, hatred and violence opens with the unforgettable character of Rufus Scott, a scavenging Harlem jazz musician adrift in New York. Self-destructive, bad and brilliant, he draws us into a Bohemian underworld pulsing with heat, music and sex, where desperate and dan ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 448 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1962)
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Mary
Sep 04, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2013
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
...more
Cheryl
Jan 23, 2017 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Ne m'oublie pas," he whispered. "You are all I have in this world."

Don't forget me. From Paris to Greenwich Village and Harlem, love traverses boundaries, inflames souls, manipulates the vulnerable, and burns each person who comes near its flames. Turbulent love is what Baldwin transcribes, the kind of love that is ignited by passion until it knows no name, has no form, except for the triangle it forms among friends. By now, my close GoodReads friends know about my reading love affair with Bald
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Didi
Mar 30, 2014 Didi rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Faith
Jun 13, 2017 Faith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, overdrive
I am appalled that it took me so long to read Baldwin, but I am gradually correcting my outrageous neglect of this important author. He was a tremendously skillful writer. This character-driven book is about a group of authors, musicians, actors and a few others who come together in New York City. They are male, female, black, white, heterosexual and bisexual. They love, hurt, attract, challenge and repel each other in various combinations. They also struggle with issues surrounding their career ...more
Oko
Nov 26, 2011 Oko rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
...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.
Josh
Feb 02, 2014 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Josh by: Mary
Shelves: 2016
The first chapter is what makes this book: 88 pages of astonishing sadness, the amazing elucidation of the painful psyche of main character Rufus and could easily be a standalone novella/short story in Baldwin's remarkable oeuvre; perhaps one of the best short stories about the human psyche I've come across so far.

This chapter sets up for what's to follow; more pain, more self-analysis of what it means to be of color, what it means to loathe the opposite or the oppressor, to loathe yourself for
...more
Sofia
Jun 06, 2015 Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-5-stars
3.5 stars

Baldwin gave me a lonely, desolate, angry, violent vision of New York from the point of view of a group of liberal artists and how they lived the racial tension between blacks and whites. In their turn they had to deal with conflict that showed how much or how not so liberal they were. Their search for meaning, love, connection was and is universal regardless of race. But racial/historical differences will raise their ugly heads. I might say that this story is about something that happe
...more
Vince
May 27, 2008 Vince rated it it was amazing
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,
...more
Brian Gatz
Nov 16, 2011 Brian Gatz rated it it was amazing
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
J Beckett
Baldwin!

A most magnificent novel of human emotion, disoriented spirit, love, honor, passion, and sorrow. Baldwin, once again, took readers into that place where the senses are pushed into overdrive. His ability to paint the portraits of Rufus, Vivaldo, Ida, Richard, Cass, Eric, Ellis, and a half dozen or so others, in the most vivid of colors, is testimony to the brilliance of Baldwin and remains, in my opinion, virtually unmatched. Five stars is hardly enough. Highly recommended to anyone who w
...more
Tananarive Due
May 31, 2010 Tananarive Due rated it it was amazing
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
Maya
Jun 06, 2015 Maya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Nobody – no man and no woman – is precisely what they think they are. Love is where you find it. And you don’t know where it will carry you. And it's a terrifying thing. Love - it’s the only human possibility but it’s terrifying.
[…]
If you can’t love anybody you are dangerous because you’ve no way of learning humility."

Excerpt from an interview with James Baldwin. Source: Youtube

Although this interview wasn’t specifically related to Another Country I felt what James Baldwin said there summar
...more
MJ Nicholls
Nov 18, 2012 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
Feb 12, 2012 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Giedre
Jul 28, 2015 Giedre rated it it was amazing
I don't know if I will ever be able to manage a proper review for Baldwin's "Another Country". If "uncomfortable" could be used as a compliment, I would start my review exclaiming "What an uncomfortable book!"
"Giovanni's Room", my first book by Baldwin, had already introduced me to the complexity of his themes, and "Another Country" took this complexity to a whole new level. Color, sexual identity, fear, discrimination, violence that breeds even more violence, hatred, uncertainty, social pressur
...more
Aubrey
Perhaps now, though, he had hit bottom. One thing about the bottom, he told himself, you can't fall any farther. He tried to take comfort from this thought. Yet there knocked in his heart the suspicion that the bottom did not really exist.

"I'd like to prove to her—one day," he said; and paused. He looked out of the window. "I'd like to make her know that the world's not as black as she thinks it is."
"Or," she said, dryly, after a moment, "as white."
Previous to Another Country, all my Baldwin w
...more
Alex
Aug 11, 2011 Alex rated it it was amazing
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
graham
Sep 14, 2009 graham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
l.
Oct 27, 2014 l. rated it liked it
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
Carolyn
Jul 01, 2009 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Stephanie
Sep 01, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
My goodness, this man really knows how to tell a story.
Melody Mejeh
Jan 07, 2013 Melody Mejeh rated it it was amazing
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
Judy
Jun 30, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing
This is the third novel I have read by James Baldwin. I know his voice now and it is a voice filled with pain, emotion, and a kind of realism about the sorrows of man and woman, black and white, gay and straight, art and commerce. That is a wide spectrum but he manages to encompass it all with great doses of truth and grace.

Reading it last week while Black churches burned and gays were given Supreme Court sanction to marry across the land, it was hard to fathom how long it takes for a society to
...more
Jasmine
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.
J.W.D.
Feb 16, 2012 J.W.D. added it
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
Joachim Stoop
May 21, 2017 Joachim Stoop rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Easiest rating in ages...

Dominic
It's a little difficult to describe James Baldwin's masterful novel, Another Country. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but this book defies any expectations a reader might have. It is also the most experimental Baldwin novel I've read so far. There isn't a narrative arc or core story plot, but instead we are given glimpses of one moment in time of the intersecting, passionate lives of eight or so characters. They live and love and suffer and fight and grasp and find and communicate and ...more
Ali Adenwala
Dec 23, 2013 Ali Adenwala rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, lgbt
Baldwin is such a brilliant writer, and I definitely wish more people read him!

Some of my favorite quotes from this book (and I have many):

"They came, this army not out of joy but of poverty, and in the most tremendous ignorance. Something had been frozen in them, the root of their affections had been frozen so they could no longer accept affection, though it was from this lack that they were perishing. The dark submission was the shadow of love - if only someone, somewhere, loved them enough to
...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. He was the eldest of nine children; his stepfather was a minister. At age
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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.” 263 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.” 47 likes
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