The Fire This Time

The Fire This Time

A New Generation Speaks About Race

Book - 2016
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The New York Times bestseller, these groundbreaking essays and poems about race--collected by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward and written by the most important voices of her generation--are "thoughtful, searing, and at times, hopeful. The Fire This Time is vivid proof that words are important, because of their power to both cleanse and to clarify" ( USA TODAY ).

In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin's 1962 "Letter to My Nephew," which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time . Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote: "You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon."

Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward knows that Baldwin's words ring as true as ever today. In response, she has gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she has turned to some of her generation's most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns.

The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future. Of the eighteen pieces, ten were written specifically for this volume.

In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin's essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a "post-racial" society is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront. Baldwin's "fire next time" is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about.

Contributors include Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2016.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781501126345
Branch Call Number: 305.896 FIRE THI
Characteristics: viii, 226 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Ward, Jesmyn - Editor


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From Library Staff

"[A] continuation of James Baldwin's 1963 The Fire Next Time that examines race issues from the past half century through essays, poems and memoir pieces by some of her generation's most original thinkers and writers."

From the critics

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Jun 29, 2018

A collection of powerful essays and poems about what it means to be Black in the US today. All the pieces had weight and showcase a vulnerability but perseverance that I wish to have in life.

Mar 26, 2017

Great collection of contemporary essays and poems about race, blackness, and America. Good for history and collective understanding. Inspirational

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Jan 12, 2017

I love Jesmyn Ward so when I saw a new book with her name on it, there was no question I would read it, and the fact that it examines race, well, all the better. As expected, this one did not disappoint either. She did a wonderful job of assembling a wide variety of essays- from a reexamination of Phyllis Wheatley to a dissection of Outkast lyrics. Highly recommended. Highly necessary.

Nov 29, 2016

Goodness Gracious me!! A book that speaks to so many themes and perpetuations and diamonds of my people. We have to determine what we will do next. We have to motivate and support ourselves. A beautiful testimony and tribute of all that Fire can do.

Oct 10, 2016

Definitely a good read. Some of the essays seem to have carried more weight and meaning to me but this book offers some great commentary in light of the current events our nation is trying to reconcile.

Sep 13, 2016

Ward divides The Fire This Time into three sections: Legacy, Reckoning, and Jubilee. But as she admits in the introduction, the pieces she received resisted the tidy structure she had envisioned. In some respects, this speaks to the complexity of the pieces, which refuse to be confined to past events or present reactions, but delve into the nuanced relationship between history and current events. Most of the pieces are essays, but each of the three sections begins with a more stylized piece or poem, such as Clint Smith’s striking “Queries of Unrest” in which he makes a metaphor of the fact that in school, he was taught never to write in the margins, even though he was marginalized. Full review:

Aug 10, 2016

I highly, highly, highly (highly!) recommend getting on the holds list for this. Jesmyn Ward is an author I already liked, and she has edited a truly wonderful collection of essays. There is a fantastic variety of voices and topics, each speaking to the experiences of black Americans. I've found a few new authors-to-watch in this collection! If you liked "Citizen" by Claudia Rankine, "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and/or "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin, pick this up!


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Sep 13, 2016

Following the death of Trayvon Martin, only the latest in a long history of black deaths excused by the state, Jesamyn Ward turned to Twitter to raise her voice. She “needed words” in the face of this tragedy, but “the ephemera of Twitter, the way the voices of the outraged public rose and sank so quickly,” left her disappointed, and looking for more. The medium’s immediacy, so powerful and important in the heat of the moment, lacked permanency. So she turned to the work of James Baldwin, and from there reached out to gather the voices of a new generation of writers on race in America today. The result is this collection of seventeen essays and poems by writers as various as Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, Garnette Cadogan, Daniel José Older, Edwidge Danticat, and Honorée Fannon Jeffers.


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Sep 13, 2016

To Trayvon Martin and the many other black men, women, and children who have died and been denied justice these last four hundred years.


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