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Description - If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

We are in Harlem, the black soul of New York City, in the era of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. The narrator of Baldwin's novel is Tish nineteen, and pregnant. Her lover Fonny, father of her child, is in jail accused of rape. Flashbacks from their love affair are woven into the compelling struggle of two families to win justice for Fonny. To this love story James Baldwin brings a spare and impassioned intensity, charging it with universal resonance and power.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140187977
ISBN-10: 0140187979
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Penguin Classics
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 29-Sep-1994
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

US Kirkus Review » This new Baldwin novel is told by a 19-year-old black girl named Tish in a New York City ghetto about how she fell in love with a young black man, Fonny. He got framed on a rape charge and she got pregnant before they could marry and move into their loft; but Tish and her family Finance a trip to Puerto Rico to track down the rape victim and rescue Fonny, a sculptor with slanted eyes and treasured independence. The book is anomalous for the 1970's with its Raisin in the Sun wholesomeness. It is sometimes saccharine, but it possesses a genuinely sweet and free spirit too. Along with the reflex sprinkles of hate-whitey, there are powerful showdowns between the two black families, and a Frieze of people who - unlike Fonny's father - gave up and "congregated on the garbage heaps of their lives." The style wobbles as Tish mixes street talk with lyricism and polemic and a bogus kind of Young Adult hesitancy. Baldwin slips past the conflict between fighting the garbage heap and settling into a long-gone private chianti-chisel-and-garret idyll, as do Fonny and Tish and the baby. But Baldwin makes the affirmation of the humanity of black people which is all too missing in various kinds of Superfly and sub-fly novels. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - James Baldwin

Born in Harlem in 1924, James Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, play-wright, poet, social critic, and the author of more than twenty books. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay col-lection The Fire Next Time was a bestseller that made him an influential figure in the civil rights movement. Baldwin spent many years in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in 1987.

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