American novelist, playwright, and activist, whose works explore the intricacies of sexual, racial and class distinctions in the West, James Arthur Baldwin breathed his last on December 1. Born in trying circumstances that saw his biological father using drugs and a stepdad who treated him more harshly than his other children, Baldwin spent most of his childhood in libraries and by adolescence had discovered his passion for writing. Subsequently, at the age of thirteen, he wrote his first article, titled "Harlem—Then and Now".
On the author’s death anniversary, here’s looking at 5 works by him one must read:
The Fire Next Time (1963)
The non-fiction containing two essays, "My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation" and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind" deals with themes such as the role of race in American society and the relation between race and religion.
Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
A semi-autobiographical bildungsroman, it tells the story of John Grimes, a smart teenager in 1930s Harlem, and his relationship to his family and his church. The novel also has a number of back stories.
Giovanni's Room (1956)
With its central theme being sexuality, the novel focuses on the life of an American man in Paris and his relationship with other men.
Another Country (1962)
Revolving around the themes of bisexuality, interracial couples and extramarital affairs, the novel is set in Greenwich Village and Harlem, New York City, in the late 1950s.
Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone (1968)
The story, once again set in Greenwich Village and Harlem starts from the point an African-American actor Leo Proudhammer dies on stage, and looks at, in retrospect, a number of relationships from the point-of-view of the actor's life.
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