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Nobody Knows My Name

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  3,178 ratings  ·  274 reviews
Told with Baldwin's characteristically unflinching honesty, this collection of illuminating, deeply felt essays examines topics ranging from race relations in the United States to the role of the writer in society, and offers personal accounts of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer and other writers. ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Vintage (first published July 1961)
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Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,178 ratings  ·  274 reviews

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Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, recs
An interesting transition between the raw passion of Notes of a Native Son and the prophetic rhetoric of The Fire Next Time, Nobody Knows My Name is as eloquent as either work. The essays collected here range from an analysis of the ties between racial and national identity in America through a memoir of the author's relationship with Richard Wright to a critique of Norman Mailer's work. Regardless of what his subject is, though, Baldwin is uniformly brilliant in this collection. Favorite essays ...more
Robert Ross
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Baldwin should be read by anyone and everyone. Any commentary I could make would do poor service to his writing and his ideas, but the more and more I read this book the more I appreciate his voice, reasoned, calm, pleading of an understanding to the issue of race which even the most "liberated" of us only poorly grasp.

Even more, knowing this collection of essays was written nearly fifty years ago, it is hard to imagine how deeply we have sunk back into a sense of complacency regarding race issu
Nancy Oakes
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I don't even know how to begin to express my feelings about this book, so I won't even try. All I know is that the entire day went by while reading it and I didn't even notice because I was so involved in what the author is saying here and in his writing. It's like having a conversation with the man.

There are a LOT of things that the author says that continue to remain pertinent to this day -- especially to this day -- and it really needs to be read, digested and remembered. It will also serio
Daniel Chaikin
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The next book in my track through Baldwin's works. I had trouble with some of his writing in Notes of a Native Son, but this is a more developed, cleaner writer and these essays are excellent. Baldwin is always on the attack through psychology. He's looking inward to find out how he really feels, and then he lets it out. The target is the myth of American white society and the consequences of it, particularly for racism. As he puts it, "There is an illusion about America, a myth about America to ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers seeking the truth
Here I am, back with Baldwin, to understand the passion in his prose, the sharpness to his sentences. There are moments that I find myself reach for Baldwin. These are one of those moments. As usual, his elegant writing style and casual erudition is comforting, his nonfiction clear and provocative.

Two things I liked best about this collection: 1) the order in which the essays are arranged (thanks to the editor) and 2) the glimpses at Baldwin's inner struggles, which brought me closer to learnin
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Andre by: Vern Barnes
As a framework
This is an accurate depiction of the African-American liberation conflict. These collected musings have a superior way of giving us an understanding of America's identity crisis. Another favorite blueprint of African American life is The Narratives of Frederick Douglass. Both classics serve as a complete instrument in seeing into the underlying issues of America's oldest and most oppressed demographic group. The modern day proletarian could read the Narratives of FD and Nobody Know
B. P. Rinehart
"'Be careful what you set your heart upon,' someone once said to me, 'for it will surely be yours.' Well, I had said that I was going to be a writer, God, Satan, and Mississippi not-withstanding, and that color did not matter, and that I was going to be free. And, here I was, left only myself to deal with. It was entirely up to me.
These essays are a very small part of a private logbook. The question of color takes up much space in these pages, but the question of color, especially in this countr
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
The question of color takes up much space in these pages, but the question of color, especially in this country, operates to hide the graver questions of the self. That is precisely why what we like to call “the Negro problem” is so tenacious in American life, and so dangerous. But my own experience proves to me that the connection between American whites and blacks is far deeper and more passionate than any of us like to think.

Κάθε άνθρωπος, και παραφράζω εδώ τον Richard Ayoade στο Submarin
Fran Levi Aghuyo
Jun 18, 2021 marked it as to-read
A beautiful book with a powerful message.
Aug 03, 2012 added it
for various reasons i have this self imposed rule that I don't give stars to books on goodreads. yet, for this book, i must break my rule because i feel the need to offset the IDIOTS who gave this book less than five stars.

this is a book about race and understanding. a kind plea for love in the face of the ignorance of the times.

i have never seen a writer who mixes so well frustration and anger with empathy love and understanding. this book is extremely courageous...he's talking about what it's
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: br, non-fiction, 2016

JB tone appeared to me to be more mature than the previous essay book I read Notes of a Native Son. I think the changes JB goes through at this time, realising that he needs to go back to America in order to grow as a man and a writer and his visits to the American south, have caused a shift in his writing. Even handling of the relationships with fellow writers Richard Wright and Norman Mailer have a certain empathy, gentle understanding.

As always an introspective read.

Read with Maya June 20
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As always, brilliance and truth from James Baldwin.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I never want to stop reading this.
It is chewy like toffee, has the sharp clarity of a handful of topaz, & still has the urgency of a horse race.
I cannot believe that anyone has ever been this insightful, smart, & compassionate about the failings of his fellow man, while still being able to see their faults in startling clarity.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
America has no greater writer and critic than Baldwin. I would give him 10 stars for everything he's ever written. This book is superb and I am not worthy to offer a critique. ...more
Barnabas Piper
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Baldwin is brilliant. As in any collection of essays some are more relevant or striking than others, but the writing is always magnificent.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of 13 essays, its title suggesting that Baldwin is going to expound on 'the race problem'. Certainly that is more than touched on; it is part of the glue that holds the book together. But the collection is much more than that. Throughout, the overall theme involves 'what it means to be human'. And the 'problem' of being black - here, overall - is less the problem of those who are black than those who are not. ~which is, of course, what racism is.

Baldwin did not just write e
In every collection of essays, some are good and some are not as good. Only with Baldwin, the good are absolutely brilliant, and the not as good are merely excellent. To think he wrote those in the 1950s is almost beyond belief - his ideas on race and identity in the States are illuminating even today.
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Simply stunning, and disheartening. To think that this was written in the mid-50s and how much of it is still prescient and relevant to racial strife today. If you've not read this, sit down with it for a little while. The parallels of today leap off the page. And Baldwin's writing is direct, sincere, and not egotistical. I would love to write this way! ...more
Jul 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, biography
James Baldwin's writings and reflections are magnificent, as always. The first essay begins by quoting Henry James, "It is a complex fate to be an American," and many of the essays explore this theme. Perhaps because of the current US holiday or perhaps because of where I live in this country, I was particularly drawn to these reflections. For the US, this time of year is one of overt "patriotism" and "allegiance," and I live in a part of the country that is already predisposed towards these bra ...more
Callum McAllister
Another banger. Loved Baldwin trashing the beat gen and William Faulkner. Didn't like Baldwin being so complimentary about Norman Mailer. ...more
Jessica Gartner
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you handed someone this book with no cover, no author, they'd be hard-pressed to believe it hadn't been written last week. Baldwin's commentary on American race relations, education, and national identity ring as true today as they must have in 1961. It is infinitely quotable and uncomfortably relevant.

"... the majority for which everyone is seeking which must reassess and release us from our past and deal with the present and create standards worthy of what a man may be - this majority is y
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm giving five stars at this point to nonfiction books that have excellent prose, that speak intelligently and thoughtfully and without fat to their topics, and that I think are important to read. This book checks both of those boxes. Three major points emerged for me in this book. First, that the issues of racism that Baldwin was addressing 50-60 years ago are, perhaps unsurprisingly, still the same issues of racism, unchanged, that we hear discussed daily--he tackles and dismisses the very (i ...more
May 07, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021
Weak point:
Princes and Power (..very weak essay to start a collection...bored me to tears)
Faulkner and Desegragation,
In Search of a Majority,
Notes for a Hypothetical Novel (..literally fell asleep reading this one)
Male Prison (..if you know nothing about A. Gide and his books this essay has little impact)

Strong point:
The Discovery of what it Means to be an American ( expat made me ponder my experiences)
Best essay: Alas, Poor Richard (...about Richard Wright's mentoring relationship with
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Another deeply insightful and affecting essay collection written by the Master of both the pessimistic and the hopeful. What Mr. Baldwin writes about the black experience was true then, and true today that "all Negro cultures were suffering was due to the fact that their political destinies were not in their hands" (Baldwin 15). His pain bleeds through the pages of this eloquent essay collection that is both an admiration and critique of how such literary figures like William Faulkner and Norman ...more
Scott Stelter
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Truly incredible. Favorite essays:
The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American
Fifth Avenue, Uptown
East River, Downtown
A Fly in Buttermilk
Nobody Knows My Name: A Letter from the South
Faulkner and Segregation
In Search of a Majority
Notes for a Hypothetical Novel
Alas, Poor Richard (about Richard Wright)
The Black Boy Looks at The White Boy (about Norman Mailer)
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Baldwin goes to Stockholm to interview Bergman. I almost died.
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
so good and so, so depressing to read, because all the major points baldwin makes are still relevant today. "prescient" and "prophetic" are sometimes thrown around to describe these essays, but i think those words are dead wrong. to say that baldwin was prophetic is to imply that he was able to see into the future, when really what he was doing was contemplating a present which is still (shamefully, depressingly) with us today.

("There is never time in the future in which we will work out our sa
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
james baldwin is one of my very favorite essayists, and there are several excellent examples of his insights included in this volume. the essay "princes and powers," for example, characterizes the hope, anxiety and ambition that characterized the early days of post-colonialism with incredible clarity. baldwin wrote it in response to a "conference of negro-african writers and artists" held in france in 1956. the essay serves as a series of extended notes about the conference, and they work as an ...more
Susanna Sturgis
Is it depressing or impressive that this book, first published in 1961, still seems so wise and so timely? The essays collected herein were first published between 1954 and 1961 -- before the Freedom Riders, before Freedom Summer, before "I have a dream," before the bombing of a Birmingham church, before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, before black rage overtook the cities, before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Yet despite, or perhaps because of, the changes and the backslidings of s ...more
Sanjay Varma
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've only read "Alas, Poor Richard" but had such a strong reaction to the essay that I wanted to jot down some thoughts.

James Baldwin is an extremely gifted writer, who uses his skills to nurse grievances and exact revenge in a most cowardly fashion. In the essay "Alas, Poor Richard," Baldwin chooses as his target someone who cannot defend themselves, Richard Wright, because the man is dead! He then very leisurely examines their decades-long relationship, using each scene to skewer Richard Wrigh
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Nobody Knows My Name - J Baldwin - BR Maya - Sofia June 2016 81 4 Jul 08, 2016 12:49AM  

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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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