- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; 1st Edition edition (August 2, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501126342
- ISBN-13: 978-1501126345
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race Hardcover – August 2, 2016
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"[A] stirring anthology that takes more cues from Baldwin than just its title ... every poem and essay in Ward’s volume remains grounded in a harsh reality that our nation, at large, refuses fully to confront."
—The New York Times Book Review
"[A] powerful book ... alive with purpose, conviction and intellect."
—The New York Times
"With this gorgeous chorus — Ward has done the same [as her ancestors]: she has created a world, a space, the one she, herself, was seeking. A new type of belonging, a new place to belong, is exactly what she has given us."
—L.A. Review of Books
"[W]hat The Fire This Time does best is to affirm the power of literature and its capacity for reflection and imagination, to collectively acknowledge the need for a much larger conversation, to understand these split-second actions in present, past, and future tense, the way that stories impel us to do. This is a book that seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward."
"The Fire This Time is a powerful, rewarding read that gets to the heart of what it means to be black in America today."
“A half century ago James Baldwin, the prophet in the American wilderness, delivered The Fire Next Time—as complex a reckoning with race, morality and human nature as we have seen. Jesmyn Ward has pulled together in this collection you now hold the incisive, sage, angry and deeply complex voices of a new generation, responding to many of the same questions that confronted us in 1963. To Baldwin's call we now have a choral response—one that should be read by every one of us committed to the cause of equality and freedom.”
—Jelani Cobb, historian
“In 1963, we were poised on a precipice, intellectually, spiritually, politically primed for the change we knew had to come. Now, some half-century later, we are again at the precipice. We are dismayed and disheartened to find ourselves here, aghast that the rules and players have changed but the game, somehow, is the same. What do we do, this post-Civil Rights generation, in the face of the same injustice, dressed in different clothes, coded in different laws? In The Fire This Time, a new generation of black writers speak with the ‘fierce urgency of now.’”
—Ayana Mathis, novelist
“Fires destroy things…burns them up…makes ashes for us all…But fires also keep us warm…give us a glow to sit by…to tell ancestry stories to the children against the rhythmic crackle of history…to make love to against the glow. The generation of segregations gave us The Fire Next Time…we broke down those walls…The generation after segregation gives us the water to mix with the ashes to build…something…anything all…in the words of Margaret Walker…our own. This is a book to pick up and tuck under our hearts to see what we can build.”
—Nikki Giovanni, poet
"Timely contributions to an urgent national conversation."
"An absolutely indispensable anthology."
—Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
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.
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Curated by National Book Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward and dedicated to Trayvon Martin, it’s an anthology divided into three parts: Legacy, Reckoning and Jubilee.
Each writer is tasked with examining what Ward calls “the ugly truths that plague us in this country.” The essays and poems contained within are deeply personal in nature, filled with sadness and hope.
White people in America (myself included, of course) can never truly understand what it’s like to endure unfathomable injustices based on the color of our skin. I believe that we have a responsibility to listen to black voices and become more empathetic and aware. The Fire This Time joins Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me as as an important work of non-fiction that can help us with that. Like Coates’ book, this one wasn’t written for us (white people), but we can all become better people by reading it.
'The Fire This Time' is a timely, necessary collection of essays on the varied dimensions of Blackness in the contemporary U.S. Divided into three sections--legacy (the past), reckoning (the present), and jubilee (the future)--the compilation not only dedicates time to dissecting white rage, the sickness that has shaped the U.S. since its genesis, but also gives glimpses into the interior lives Black folk lead, the brilliance, the joy, and the creativity that blossoms in Black communities in spite of racial oppression. More than a few of the essays are reprints, but this doesn't take away from the distinctness of the overall project. My personal favorites were "'The Dear Pledges of Our Love': A Defense of Philis Wheatley's Husband" by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, "Da Art of Storytellin' (a Prequel)" by Kiese Laymon, and "Black and Blue" by Garnette Cadogan. Jeffers seeks to show what is lost when our knowledge of Black lives is wholly shaped by white hostility; Laymon writes a beautiful tribute to his grandmother and OutKast and shows some of the non-literary modes through which Black Southerners across generations have shared their voice; Cadogan gives a wonderful description of the aesthetic, social, and political dimensions of Black bodies walking in three very different cities, Kingston, New Orleans, and NYC.
Edwidge Danticat's words in the closing essay have remained with me: "I want to look happily forward. I want to be optimistic. I want to have a dream. I want to live in jubilee. I want my daughters to feel they have the power to at least try to chance things, even in a world that resists change with more strength than they have. I want to tell them they can overcome everything, if they are courageous, resilient, and brave...But the world keeps tripping me up. My certainty keeps flailing."
My true score is 3.8