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This resplendently beautiful, passionate, and poetic love story between the pregnant teen-aged Tish and the self-assured young sculptor Fonny, who is in jail awaiting his trial for a crime he didn’t commit, is the tragic tale of the barriers our society erects for any black person who dares to try to live a life of dignity. If our streets could tell stories, there would be countless such stories of injustice; this one has in Baldwin a rare voice that is at once urgent, angry, hopeful and loving, and his story is every bit as powerful as the best of Shakespearean tragedies. Fonny is Baldwin’s personification of the black man who “wasn’t anybody’s nigger” in a country where it’s a crime not to be somebody’s nigger. Baldwin believed that the future of our country depends on white people figuring out why they have the need to invent the nigger—a question skillfully woven into this story, lovingly written by someone who spoke truth to power. Ours would be a better country if this were required reading.— From Jeanne's Picks
In this honest and stunning novel, now a major motion picture directed by Barry Jenkins, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice.
Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions–affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.
"One of the best books Baldwin has ever written–perhaps the best of all." –The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless.”–Joyce Carol Oates
"If Van Gogh was our nineteenth-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our twentiethth-century one." –Michael Ondaatje
"Striking and particularly haunting. . . . A beauty, especially in its rendering of youthful passion." –Cosmopolitan
"A major work of black American fiction... His best novel yet, even Baldwin's most devoted readers are due to be stunned by it."–The New Republic
"Emotional dynamite... a powerful assault upon the cynicism that seems today to drain our determination to confront deep social problems."–Library Journal
"A moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless."
–The New York Times Book Review