Just Above My Head: A Novel (Paperback)
Just Above My Head is Baldwin's final and most expansive work of fiction. It is a story of love, Blackness, and music. Not only does music serve as a primary driver of the plot, but Baldwin's writing style itself is rhythmic and lyrical. Thus, when reading this it is important to not just hear Baldwin's prose, but to actively listen to it. This is true with much of Black music, that there are often hidden meanings embedded in the lyrics which only certain audiences hold the key to unlock. In his essay, "Many Thousands Gone," Baldwin says, "It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story..." Keep that in mind when reading this masterpiece.
- Clarisse— From Clarisse
“Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”
The stark grief of a brother mourning a brother opens this stunning, unforgettable novel. Here, in a monumental saga of love and rage, James Baldwin goes back to Harlem, to the church of his groundbreaking novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, to the forbidden passion of Giovanni’s Room, and to the political fire that enflames his nonfiction work. Here, too, the story of gospel singer Arthur Hall and his family becomes both a journey into another country of the soul and senses—and a living contemporary history of black struggle in this land.
“The work of a born storyteller at the height of his powers . . . glimpses of family life in Harlem, rapturous music-making in the churches, moments of uneasiness in even the most casual meetings between whites and blacks—scenes that Baldwin seems preternaturally gifted in understanding.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A fine novel . . . it seems impossible for [Baldwin] to write with anything other than eloquence. His great and peculiar power is to re-create the maddening halfway house that the black man finds himself in late-twentieth-century America.”—The New Yorker