Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race” as Want to Read:
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  3,310 Ratings  ·  566 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
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 The Fire This Time, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sarah You definitely don't have to have read The Fire Next Time to read this, BUT I would say go read that one next! Or first! They are both really…moreYou definitely don't have to have read The Fire Next Time to read this, BUT I would say go read that one next! Or first! They are both really important and great books :)(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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 black
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
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
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites
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
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
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:

Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, netgalley, racism, 2016

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
"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
Taryn Pierson
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
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 some
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.

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
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
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
K.D. Winchester
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every piece in this collection changed my perspective on race in America. Each author gives you a glimpse of his or her unique experience as a person of color. Beautiful, poignant, and completely relevant to today's political turmoil, The Fire This Time is an excellent testament to what America has a achieved--and how far we still have to go.

P.S. Jesmyn Ward <3
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.
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
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.
SUSAN   *Nevertheless,she persisted*
Insightful,sad,beautifully written book. Would highly recommend.
J Beckett
A must read for the conscious soul. Amazing essays by incredible and thought-proking writers. An unequivocal book for the generations.
Splendid is a very apt word to describe this very timely collection of essays/poems that will sooth the soul, nourish the spirit and rouse the mind!
Editor Jesmyn Ward competently gathered an illustrious group of contributors to continue the discussion/update/reflect on what James Baldwin so poignantly expressed in his 1963, “The Fire Next Time”.
As I normally do with collections, I read only a story or two per day so I could savor and reflect on each contribution. As expected some of the essays
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016, br
"We see, we listen, we speak, and we trust that each step we take won't be our last, but will lead us into a richer understanding of the self and the world."

from Black and Blue by Garnette Cadogan

I came to this collection of essays via Baldwin's The Fire Next Time and while Baldwin remains a nonpareil, I like the look this gave me at where Baldwin's battle is at in present times. Plus I liked the different views given by the different authors. Unfortunately although some mileage has been gained
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fine collection of essays (with a few poems thrown in) about the black experience in America. Many them treat on the "Black Lives Matter" campaign and in the notorious cases that inspired it, but there's also other tangents such as a piece on the 18th-century black poet Phyllis Wheatley and the narrative of a New York intern who idolizes James Baldwin.

As you might expect from the title (a twist on JB's The Fire Next Time), Baldwin looms large in the background. This is his year. Movies, books, a
Aug 26, 2016 rated it liked it

“… when and how to talk to our children about protecting themselves from the police. At what age is such a conversation appropriate? By what age is it critical? How could it not be despairing? And what, precisely, should be said?”*

I found this to be the thread that linked most of the essays in this anthology: the parents’ worry and fear for their children’s lives, the knowledge that their children will live in the same unsafe world as they did, as their parents and grandparents and grand-grandpa
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very strong collection of essays, full of fine writing and insight from perspectives I do not get to read enough of. I'm glad I ran across this and was thrilled to read. Excellent work inside.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education
  • The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America
  • A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream
  • Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America
  • The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America
  • The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea
  • The Grey Album: Music, Shadows, Lies
  • Known and Strange Things: Essays
  • Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Barbarian in the Garden
  • How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America
  • What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction
  • Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy
  • Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South
  • Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery
  • Urgent, Unheard Stories
  • The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of War
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.
More about Jesmyn Ward

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Loudest Voice in the Room: How Roger Ailes and Fox News Remade American Politics
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started theLongest War in American History
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
    $17.99 $1.99
  • French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters
    $12.49 $2.99
  • When the Game Was Ours
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Tomorrowland: Our Staggering Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Power
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Through My Eyes
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Brief History of Everything
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The World's Religions, Revised and Updated (Plus)
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Leonardo's Notebooks
    $11.99 $2.99
  • An American Childhood
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Making Toast
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN
    $11.99 $2.99
“I want to look happily forward. I want to be optimistic. I want to have a dream. I want to live in jubilee. I want my daughters to feel that they have the power to at least try to change things, even in a world that resists change with more strength than they have. I want to tell them they can overcome everything, if the are courageous, resilient and brave. Paradoxically, I also want to tell them their crowns have already been bought and paid for and that all they have to do is put them on their heads. But the world keeps tripping me up. My certainty keeps flailing.” 9 likes
“Replace ropes with bullets. Hound dogs with German shepherds. A gray uniform with a bulletproof vest. Nothing is new.” 9 likes
More quotes…