The electrifying first novel from James Baldwin, whose life and words are immortalized in the Oscar-nominated film I Am Not Your Negro
'I had to deal with what hurt me most. I had to deal with my father.'
Drawing on James Baldwin's own boyhood in a religious community in 1930s Harlem, his first novel tells the story of young Johnny Grimes. Johnny is destined to become a preacher like his father, Gabriel, at the Temple of the Fire Baptized, where the church swells with song and it is as if 'the Holy Ghost were riding on the air'. But he feels only scalding hatred for Gabriel, whose fear and fanaticism lead him to abuse his family. Johnny vows that, for him, things will be different. This blazing tale is full of passion and guilt, of secret sinners and prayers singing on the wind.
'A beautiful, enduring, spirtual song of a novel' Andrew O'Hagan
'With vivid imagery, with lavish attention to details, Mr. Baldwin has told his feverish story' The New York Times
Loved Beale Street and loved Notes of A Native Son but this novel is a slog half-way through and not as tart and hard-hitting as his other novels. Still, a three stars Baldwin novel is better than most novels written today.