Book Reviews: The Fire Next Time
Monday, December 20, 2010Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
The Fire Next Time
by James Baldwin
Baldwin’s slim book about race problems in America provides a powerful picture of the tumultuous time period he was living in. It begins with a line from an old slave song, “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time.” He goes on to talk about how black and white people in America are picking each other apart and destroying themselves in the process.
Baldwin wrote this in 1963, while the nation was embroiled in the Civil Rights movement. His thoughts on the matter are both universal and deeply personal. He manages capture the feelings of many African Americans at that time, frustration and anger at a world filled with injustice, and blend them with his own cry for a peaceful persistence as they fight for equality.
He wrote much of this book to encourage his nephew and convince him that he shouldn’t see himself as unworthy because white people may treat him that way. This is my first taste of Baldwin and while I was impressed by his writing style, I’ve heard his fiction is even better.
“It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.”