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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  7,569 ratings  ·  1,115 reviews
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 republish
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Scribner
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Andrei Vylinski I'm here to add that The Fire Next Time is just as worth reading on its own merit as this book, and if you haven't read it yet, please do it, James Ba…moreI'm here to add that The Fire Next Time is just as worth reading on its own merit as this book, and if you haven't read it yet, please do it, James Baldwin was a perfect essayist and this is one his most important texts.(less)

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 ·  7,569 ratings  ·  1,115 reviews

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May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, recs
Encompassing many subjects, styles, and tones, The Fire This Time aims to spark thoughtful conversation about the current state of race relations in America, as well as theorize what forms Black identity and anti-racist activism might take in an increasingly digitalized society. In spite of shared reference to recent social trends and tragedies, the essays in the collection consider a vast span of topics: the nation's cultural amnesia over slavery, white rage, walking while Black, the ethics of ...more
Diane S ☔
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
it is hard, if not I possible, for person born white to enter the skin of a person of color, to understand how they see things. No matter how sympathetic we are to their plight, no matter how regretful, we cannot see things the way they see them, experience things the way they do. These essays let me glimpse inside, showed me a little of how things have effected them, how the past has colored their future. The color divide is a wide one, I believe, though after all this time it should not be. No ...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

4.5 stars. TRUE STORY : I had so many articulated thoughts (I swear, humor me) to explain why I loved this collection of essays and why I thought it was very important to read it - of course if you're Afro-American but also if you are not. I'll forever advocate for books who make me feel uncomfortable because of my own privileged biases - even if I'm not American.

I had all these articulated sentences ready to burst on the page, talking about how I will never truly know what it is to be blac
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
The Fire This Time blew me away. It’s an odd experience to read a collection of essays that’s hard to put down – reading past my bedtime, early in the morning, and at my desk at lunch. Why? The incredibly timely subject is only part of it – the writing and the personal quality of the essays is what had me glued to this collection. Inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, the editor has collected a series of personal essays and poems written by African Americans about race in the US today. ...more
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the Introduction to this collection of essays by an impressive roster of writers known for thoughtful and articulate discussion of their experience with race in America, Jesmyn Ward explains that she wanted something more than newspaper accounts or editorials when faced with the events of the past eighteen months in the USA. Her own book on the death of five young men of her acquaintance, Men We Reaped, meant that hearing of and seeing via public media further deaths of black men by white men ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, poc-author
Read this one slowly over the course of the month and man, it was good. Like any anthology, some essays are significantly stronger than others. But when those essays hit, they HIT.

A lot of them are ones that have been expanded out into other books (White Rage by Carol Anderson, Blacker Than Thou by Kevin Young) or published elsewhere (Da Art of Storytellin' by Kiese Laymon) or ones that feel familiar if you regularly read the writer (The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning by Claudia Rank
This is perhaps the best essay collection that I have read thus far. Not that I've read a significant number of essay collections; but it's becoming an appealing genre for me. I approached this book with one thought in mind: What do young people think about race? Do they get it? Of course the title to me implies young people 30ish or so. I recently read The Fire Next Time. It was tremendously affecting in that the mood and thoughts on race back then, were strikingly similar to where we stand to ...more
Mar 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buzzword-2021
Powerful, powerful, powerful!!!

This incredibly moving collection of essays speaks to topics such as race, humanity, human rights, family, identity and the Black experience in America, both historical and present-day.

Easily, one of the best collections of this type that I have ever read; each author/artist/thinker wrote with such strength, conviction and grace. I could not put this down once I started.

Each of these essays/stories/poems are thought-provoking, heart-felt, captivating, well-written
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
“A New Generation Speaks about Race” is the subtitle of this collection of essays, memoirs, poetry, etc. A number of my GR friends have reflected on the powerful nature of this material. I agree with many of their observations concerning the way, here in the USA, we have not been able to treat all as equal.

There is little in this book that I can find to make me believe that things, in the near term, will be getting better. There seems little as a non-black that I can hope to change except this:

Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
While I loved some of these essays, very many did not work for me all that much. I know I am not the target audience for this, so please do take my rating with a grain of salt. For one thing, I am not American and I do think that quite a bit of the cultural context will have flown over my head, for another thing, I am also not a person of colour. I can appreciate how important this collection of essays is without being blown away myself. I found the vast majority of these essays well-written eno ...more
Brown Girl Reading
The Fire This Time. Police brutality and systemic racism are plaguing the United States as if we hadn't gone through the Civil Rights movement. I living in France, a country without worry or anxiety when I go out, don't have to face so much overt racism, nor too many microagressions, sit and listen to the countless horrific cases of police brutality ending in fatality. I am almost fifty years old and am proud to have seen a black president and hopefully a female one. However the hate crimes, pol ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, 2016, netgalley, racism

4.5 Stars

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to read this collection of essays, a topic that seems to be everywhere, in the news, as well as nonfiction and fiction books. The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward is timely as a topic, but it’s tragic that it needed to be written.

Some of these essays are better than others, but all are worth reading. You’ll recognize the names of people you’ve read about, heard some of the details of their tragic stories. The details of areas where the high racial ten
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"My only sin is my skin, ... What did I do, to be so black and blue?"
Fats Waller, "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue?""

The title of this choric collection of prismatic prose and poetry convoking for equality, compassion and freedom from fear, written by some of today's prominent and talented African-American writers, derives from the title of James Baldwin's groundbreaking The Fire Next Time which he ended with the fiery memorable passage:
"If we...the relatively conscious whites and the re
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read The Fire This Time with great urgency. The murders this week of two more innocent black men at the hands of cops, followed by the sniper attacks on Dallas police officers, are a kind of nightmarish call and response that demand reflection and action.

It's hard to know what to do when the problems in our country seem so huge and insurmountable. I want so badly not to be part of the problem. I want to quit agonizing over my privilege and do something that matters. But what can one person do
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I started this book today intending to read one or two essays. I found I couldn't put it down, even when the cumulative pain and rage expressed made me want to.

Every essay is outstanding. I was particularly struck by Edwidge Danticat's description of Haitian refugees from the Dominican Republic and comparing it to African-American "refugees" in the United States. But also an essay that describes the perils of walking while black. Another that deals with the loneliness of being black in America.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars to 5.

I inhaled this collection of essays. This book was a response to a series of killings of African Americans over the last few years, and to the book The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

The collection contains essays and some poems. The writing styles of each piece are different, and though many of the works cover similar incidents, each author brings something a little different to the discussion.

Once I started reading this collection, I could not stop. I found the essays were po
Book Riot Community
This anthology has a stellar list of contributors, including Edwidge Danticat, Kiese Laymon, Claudia Rankine, Isabel Wilkerson, and many more. It’s fabulous. The pieces are varied, ranging from essay to memoir to poetry. They are consistently moving and powerful, each capturing a different perspective on what it means to be Black in America today. Readers will come to this book for different reasons, but it remains essential reading for everyone who cares about the American experience, past, pre ...more
I have been reading plenty of great fiction about issues of race inequality - Homegoing, The Underground Railroad, Sing, Unburied Sing, and A Kind of Freedon . Fiction is such an great portal into worlds and minds far removed from my own experience. I have learnt so much from each of these novels. But even so, some nuances will always be lacking when you don't hail from the American South or in my case America at all and it is then that I turn to non-fiction to fill in some much needed historica ...more
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, essays, poetry
“Since 2015, police officers have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black men and women nationwide, an NPR investigation has found.” Reported on NPR 1/25/21

This collection of essays was published in 2016, written before most if not all of those deaths. The book is already full of lists of murdered people--the cover art is actual tally marks--yet since its writing, we have this unthinkable number of 135 more.

“It seems the rate of police killings now surpasses the rate of lynchings during the wors
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoughts to come
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Non-Fiction Essays : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thoughtfully written and powerful.
“From the time your children begin walking, they are moving away from you. This is as it should be, even when you can’t protect them from harm with anything but the inadequate outerwear of your love.”
― Jesmyn Ward, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race

Thanks Netgallery for the advanced copy of this book.

First let me say, everyone should read this, especially if you are an American and if you love spectacular writing. The essays in this book were well thought out, personal, moving, raw and in more than one ways inspiring. Yes, the topic covered- Racism in America- is an ugly one and its been covered time and time again but these essays give a very fresh personal look at the subject.

I personally loved "Black and Blue" by Garnette Cadogan main
We scream equality and freedom while unabashedly modeling our actions on the fathers of genocide.

The Fire This Time is a really good collection of essays on race, inequality, police brutality, and the stigmatization of Blacks. The title takes inspiration from Baldwin’s words, The Fire Next Time, and brings the old voices into today’s political context (which isn’t all that much different). Having never read The Fire Next Time, it is possible that I lost a deeper connection to this book in so
Jessica Sullivan
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A book like this is more important now than ever. Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, the widespread national anthem protests and the recent election of a racist president, The Fire This Time digs deep into the legacy of racism in America and what it means to be black in the past, in the present and in the future.

Curated by National Book Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward and dedicated to Trayvon Martin, it's an anthology divided into three parts: Legacy, Reckoning and Jubilee.

Each writer is tas
reading is my hustle
What the fuck is wrong with Trent Lott? Jesmyn Ward I have yet to shake that incident. What a repellent human being.

This anthology is dauntless. And the intellect? Not sure which is more impressive that or the talent. Kevin Young ...I took a black shower and shaved a black shave, I walked a black walk and sat a black sit... is in top form. But then the same could be said for all of the contributors.

Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this superb collection of essays and poems in a single sitting. The theme of all the essays is the personal experience of being black in today's America. The introduction itself, which tells the complicated story of how the editor resented, but then came to love James Baldwin. It is worth the price of the book alone. Some essays are straightforward political arguments. Others are surreal meditations, playing with language and meaning. The quality of writing and urgency of the message ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
[4+] James Baldwin wrote to his nephew James "You were born in a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being."

These are the anguished and angry and hopeful and determined words of his successors. All are excellent essays. My favorite was the eye-opening "Black and Blue" by Garnette Cadogan who writes about arriving in New Orleans as a college student from Jamaica and losing his ability to walk freely.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first time I attempted reading this collection of essays on race in America, I did not get far. I'm very glad that I tried again. As with most anthologies, I found some pieces more compelling than others. Some essays were subtle, and slow-burning in their delivery, like Lonely in America by Wendy Walters. Whereas, others, like The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning by Claudia Rankine, were direct and on the nose.

In all, a solid collection, in my opinion.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I do enjoy an anthology and especially one with such a timely topic and one I can certainly learn from.

Most of the essays comment on either Michael Brown or the Emanuel Church shooting in SC. The format is split into three sections appropriately titled: Legacy, Reckoning, and Jubilee. Throughout most of the book there are interspersed poems and letters and short prose segments. I can appreciate all the time and thought each of these authors put into this project. The power of perspective is a h
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
To say that I enjoyed this book would be a lie. This is not a book that one enjoys reading, because the essays collected in this volume are not written for enjoyment. To say that this book changed my life would not be an exaggeration though. These essays, written in response to police brutality against black Americans, pushed me to my limits, made me feel emotions that I didn't know I could feel, and taught me so much--about what it is to be black in America, both historically and in present day ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Page count correction - The Fire This Time 4 14 Mar 29, 2019 07:56PM  

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Jesmyn Ward is the author of Where the Line Bleeds, Salvage the Bones, and Men We Reaped. She is a former Stegner Fellow (Stanford University) and Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is an associate professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University.

Her work has appeared in BOMB, A Public Space and The Oxford American.

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