“Kenan continues Baldwin’s legendary tradition of ‘telling it on the mountain’ by giving a voice to the unvarnished truth.”—The San Francisco Chronicle
James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time was one of the essential books of the sixties, and one of the most galvanizing statements of the American civil rights movement.
In The Fire This Time, inspired by Baldwin, Kenan combines elements of memoir and commentary, casting a critical eye from his childhood to the present to observe that, while there have been dramatic advances since the sixties, some issues continue to bedevil us.
Starting with W. E. B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King, Jr., Kenan expands the discussion to include many powerful Aamerican personalities, such as Oprah Winfrey, O. J. Simpson, Clarence Thomas, Rodney King, Sean “Puffy” Combs, George Foreman, and Barack Obama.
Published to mark the forty-fifth anniversary of James Baldwin’s epochal work, The Fire This Time is itself a piercing consideration of the times, and an impassioned call to transcend them.
About the Author
Randall Kenan (1963–2020) was the author of the biography James Baldwin: American Writer, and the collection of oral histories Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the 21st Century, as well as the novel A Visitation of Spirits, and the short story collection Let the Dead Bury Their Dead. His last work of fiction, If I Had Two Wings, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and over his career, his work was awarded numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Sherwood Anderson Award, the John Dos Passos Award, the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and numerous other prizes.
“An inventive writer who shows great promise… Kenan continues Baldwin’s legendary tradition of ‘telling it on the mountain’ by giving a voice to the unvarnished truth about blacks.”
—The San Francisco Chronicle
“Kenan demands attention. He often seems to speak rather than to write: one feels more a listener than a reader, drawing a chair up to his fire.”
“A talented young novelist and short-story writer… What makes Kenan…so unusual is his willingness to look beyond the usual places.”
—The New York Times
“Kenan [presents] a magnificent panoramic view of what it means to be human, filled with insight and wisdom and provocation, cause for hope and celebration.”