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The Man Who Cried I Am

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  139 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Generally recognized as one of the most important novels of the tumultuous 1960s, The Man Who Cried I Am vividly evokes the harsh era of segregation that presaged the expatriation of African-American intellectuals. Through the eyes of journalist Max Reddick, and with penetrating fictional portraits of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, among other historical figures, John A ...more
Published (first published June 1967)
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Max Reddick is a journalist in the sixties, trying to overcome racial stereotypes as well as personal (and physical) obstacles to become a respected writer. Beginning in Amsterdam the story moves location and time throughout the story, from New York to Leiden to Amsterdam to Africa. His relationships with other black intellectuals and expatriates are based on real characters of history (Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Richard Wright), and his sexual relationships with women (both black and white) are ...more
I had never even heard of John A. Williams' The Man Who Cried I Am before I began putting together my reading lists for my comps and I have no idea why. It's an amazing novel and one that should have more recognition.

The novel is cinematic in its scope and in its easy fades from one time period, one setting, one mindset to another. The framing narrative follows Max Reddick, an African American novelist and journalist, on one final trip to Amsterdam. He is dying of cancer and makes this last tri
This one disturbed me, and I think that's the point. Not disturbed in a psychological way. Williams just keeps me always on my guard. At first, I worried about the constant fluxuations in tone, time, and scope. But in the end, I'm fascinated with how perfectly these shifts match the growth and struggles of Max Reddick. The ending is still bothering me; mostly because I'm still trying to force it into a clean, traditional narrative, and it won't fit. Provocative. I know that's a bit cliche, but I ...more
I've read this so many times I can't put the date above. It is fascinating how the author weaves the current events of his time with the lives of his writing contemporaries, like Richard Wright and Baldwin. He draws on clearly autobiographical experiences as a young black writer in the '40s, 50's and 60's, but so much of the feeling is like it happened yesterday.
Jan 22, 2012 Janne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I don't know how I had missed this book when it first came out: it is a wonderful description of the experience of a black man, an intelligent, ambitious black man trying to live his life in the US of the 50s and 60s. Williams is able to make me, an aging white female from Brazil, feel the angst and the rage of the narrator. Things were changing in this country, but not fast enough for the ones living at the time. The characters portrayed in the book supposedly are based on real life black write ...more
A fantastic novel that demands close attention. Complex characters, a plot that could be considered epic (or at least cinematic). A great comment on America, on writing, and on race. Williams has a number of good novels that are sadly overlooked. (He's also got a couple of stinkers, but who doesn't?) Check out !Click Song for more on black writers and the struggle to publish; This is My Country Too! for a fantastic look at american in the 60s; and Sissie, for a novel about family dynamics that p ...more
This is heartbreaking and brilliant in its brutal honesty. Not a feel-good novel but a must-read nonetheless.
Dean Landsman
This book, first published n 1967, tells of classified government plans for dealing with racial unrest. A remarkable story, dealt with by the brilliant author John A. Williams as a work of fiction, foreshadows much of the "contingency" planning of the government to deal with issues as they might arise. Now, as we see the doings of various intelligence agencies snooping, prying, eavesdropping, and gathering intel of all sorts, contingency plans and government planning for numerous "what if" scena ...more
Marley KD
How on earth did I not know about this book? Powerful, important, a must read.
Robert Wechsler
This should be much more of an African-American classic than it is. I’d never even heard of it. The writing is excellent, simple but always appropriate, never pat. Although it is a novel about a novelist, and his relationship with another novelist, it never feels overly literary or self-referential. Except for the end, with the uncovering of a huge international conspiracy, it almost never strikes a wrong note. It’s a novel I could definitely come back to. It’s too bad that, it appears, Williams ...more
This is one of those books you should read. I had a hard time with it. I felt some scenes were underdeveloped, the shifts in time (especially early on) made me want to give up several times, and there were preachy passages. But, if you want to know African American lit, this is a formative book in the cannon after WWII. So, it was worth reading, but it took me forever. I wouldn't say that I liked it, but I know a lot of people who do. Maybe this is one of those books you either love or hate.
Nov 02, 2007 Ona rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are fans of African American lit from all eras.
Hard not to compare him to James Baldwin...and this book is a great complement to those of the Master.
Good picture of an african american man's experience in mid-20th century.
RK Byers
this guy wishes he'd been James Baldwin.
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John Alfred Williams is an African American author, journalist and academic.

Williams was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and, after naval service in World War II, graduated in 1950 from Syracuse University. His novels, which include The Angry Ones (1960) and The Man Who Cried I Am (1967) are mainly about the black experience in white America. The Man Who Cried I Am, a fictionalized account of the li
More about John A. Williams...
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