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Another Country

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  21,268 ratings  ·  2,081 reviews
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country is a novel of passions--sexual, racial, political, artistic--that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and
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Paperback, Penguin Classics, 426 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published May 1962)
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Cynthiadean Janine, don't bother trying to finish this book-- it never gets any better.
Has several patches of very good writing but never anything that serves th…more
Janine, don't bother trying to finish this book-- it never gets any better.
Has several patches of very good writing but never anything that serves the plot or character development. Our book group all felt depressed, then angry at having wasted our time reading it. I'm told Go tell it on the mountain is Baldwin's best book. (Wanted to read this but the other people in our book club had already,so we all read this. Big mistake!)(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  21,268 ratings  ·  2,081 reviews


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Mary
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Cheryl
"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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Michael
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, recs
Sprawling and introspective, Another Country explores the many forms love and longing can take. Set in Greenwich Village and Harlem during the late fifties, Baldwin’s third novel centers on the malaise and messy affairs of a small group of friends following the grisly suicide of one of the circle’s key members. Characters cheat on each other, cross class and racial boundaries, and strive for greatness even as despair threatens to consume them. Again and again they ask themselves and others wheth ...more
Rosh
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It took 15 years for Baldwin to complete this novel. He travelled all across from Paris to Turkey in poor health, depressed, and feeling that he had lost sight of his aims as a writer. On the brink of suicide, this novel had almost killed him. And while reading this you can sense Baldwin's sense of despair, torment and rage.

This would not be a Baldwin novel if he did not deal with social issues such as race, class, and same sex relationships. Baldwin has a way of eloquently showing people's ugly
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Gabrielle
I love Baldwin’s writing, his beautiful prose that punches me in the gut without fail. This book might be his most sophisticated, from a narrative structure point of view, but jeez, it was also his heaviest, as far as I am concerned. “Another Country’ weaves together the story of a small group of friends living in New York in the 1950s, Rufus, Vivaldo, Cass, Ida and Eric. Loss brings them closer together, but also pulls them apart, both literally and metaphorically.

Baldwin did something remarkab
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l
Oct 27, 2014 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
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
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Brown Girl Reading
Mar 30, 2014 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
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Faith
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: overdrive, audio
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 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
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Anthony
This is an extraordinarily raw, perceptive, sorrowful, blazingly alive exploration of the unknown and mysterious territories of the human heart.

It’s astonishing to me to read a book that — 60 years after its publication — is as unapologetically queer and complex in its depiction of interracial relationships as anything being written today.

To say that James Baldwin was a profoundly wise and visionary thinker is an understatement.

I’m very moved and troubled and stirred to my soul after having r
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Sian Griffiths
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book so much more than I did. I deeply admire Baldwin's bravery in tackling the subjects of systemic racism and socially forbidden love, and some of the sentences took my breath away with their beautiful construction. Even so, the book is veined with a deep-seated misogyny. Women here are either weak or "bitches," and either way they seem to want to be slapped around. Ugh. The characters in general feel thin to me, like figures created to drive a plot and propose theories o ...more
emma
even james baldwin's short works take me a million years to read out of sheer appreciation, so this 450-pager will be my life's work ...more
Trevor
Feb 19, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
julieta
Jan 31, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a passionate book!! He is so ahead of his time, I had not read him, and I now need to read everything by him. I loved this!!
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. ...more
Bradley
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those novels, like Giovanni's Room that dives deep into interpersonal relationships in a very deep and broad way. Not only is it about the complicated relationships between blacks and whites, but about m/m, m/f, and all the messy complicated issues that can happen between them all.

Yes, it's about racism, but mostly it's about fairly decent people trying to make it work and still getting it all wrong. And that's interesting, no? For a book that came out in 1962, he runs through th
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Josh
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lauren
Baldwin spent 13 years writing ANOTHER COUNTRY. He stated that the characters fell silent, stopped talking to him, so he let them rest and focused on his prolific and defining essays and commentaries, as well as his own travels through Europe, Africa, and Asia.

In some ways, the span of time it took to write it is evident. There are tonal shifts in this book, most notably a "set piece" in the first 80ish-pages, following the character Rufus, inspired by one of Baldwin's friends. The book sprawls
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Teresa
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5

Near the start of this book, I was reminded of Baldwin’s previous novel, Giovanni's Room. But it quickly becomes Giovanni’s Room-‘exploded’, for this is not just the story of fraught tension between a homosexual man and a possibly bisexual man; but also the story of other couples, and coupling: a white woman who has escaped the South and a black man; a white man and a black woman; and, the one that seemed the most forced to me, an ‘older’ married woman and a homosexual (bisexual?) man, anothe
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Tananarive Due
May 31, 2010 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
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James
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A messy, meandering, wildly uneven novel that is still somehow elevated to near epic greatness by the brilliance and beauty of James Baldwin's prose. I swear Baldwin could write a Craigslist ad for plumbing services and still move me to tears! 🤷‍♂️😅

Set primarily in Harlem and Greenwich Village during the late 1950's, this tells the intersecting stories of a small group of artistic friends in their 20's and 30's, and their various sexual and romantic exploits - focusing mainly on relationships t
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Sofia
Jun 06, 2015 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
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Kathleen
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-authors
“But it was only love which could accomplish the miracle of making a life bearable—only love, and love itself mostly failed …”

Have you ever had somebody tell you something, something secret and maybe a bit shocking but at the same time familiar and it makes you see them for who they are and that brings up these tender feelings for them that you didn’t know you had and after that you look at them and yourself and the whole world differently? That’s Another Country.

This is my first reading of Bal
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Daniel Chaikin
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Litsy post, written just as I finished: Finished on my way out of town. Seems Baldwin aims to shock and had bought into Freud. Often called pornographic, there is a lot of sex in detail... sometimes it‘s beautiful, but it‘s always uncomfortable and it‘s never the point. He‘s looking at sexuality, race, psychology, and at the loneliness within the unnatural landscape of the heart of Manhattan. The books a mash, too much. Runs and sputters, fades, returns, irritating and powerful.

I had a strong
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Maya
Jun 06, 2015 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 summ
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Sophie
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
[...]not unless you're willing to ask yourself how you'd have made it, if they dumped on you what they dumped on Rufus. And you can't ask yourself that question because there's no way in the world for you to know what Rufus went through, not in this world, not as long as you're white.
Πρόκειται για ένα επικό Νεοϋορκέζικο μυθιστόρημα με υπεραφθονία θεμάτων (η αγάπη, η τιμή της αγάπης, η αυτοχειρία, οι φυλετικές και σεξουαλικές διακρίσεις της δεκαετίας του '50-'60) και χωρίς ιδιαίτερα καίρια πλ
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MJ Nicholls
Nov 18, 2012 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
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
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Vince
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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,
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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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