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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race

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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).

ISBN-13: 9781501126352

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Date: 06-20-2017

Pages: 240

Product Dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

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, the Strauss Living Prize, and the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. 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

Message to My Daughters Edwidge Danticat 205

Acknowledgments 217

Contributors 219

Permissions 225