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 this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. “An absolutely indispensable anthology” (Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.
Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America. We’ve made significant progress in the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essays were published, but America is a long and painful distance away from a “post-racial society”—a truth we must confront if we are to continue to work towards change. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about; The Fire This Time “seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward” (Vogue).
Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and has received the MacArthur Genius Grant, a Stegner Fellowship, a John and Renee Grisham Writers Residency, and the Strauss Living Prize. She is the winner of two National Book Awards for Fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017) and Salvage the Bones (2011). She is also the author of the novel Where the Line Bleeds and the memoir Men We Reaped, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and the Media for a Just Society Award. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University and lives in Mississippi.
Table of Contents
"The Tradition" Jericho Brown 1
Introduction Jesmyn Ward 3
Part I Legacy
Homegoing, AD Kima Jones 15
The Weight Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah 19
Lonely in America Wendy S. Walters 33
Where Do We Go from Here? Isabel Wilkerson 59
"The Dear Pledges of Our Love": A Defense of Phillis Wheatley's Husband Honorée Fanonne Jeffers 63
White Rage Carol Anderson 83
Cracking the Code Jesmyn Ward 89
Part II Reckoning
Queries of Unrest Clint Smith 99
Blacker Than Thou Kevin Young 101
Da Art of Storytellin' (a Prequel) Kiese Laymon 117
Black and Blue Garnette Cadogan 129
The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning Claudia Rankine 145
Know Your Rights! Emily Raboteau 157
Composite Pops Mitchell S. Jackson 179
Part III Jubilee
Theories of Time and Space Natasha Trethewey 195
This Far: Notes on Love and Revolution Daniel José Older 197
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