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James Baldwin: Living in Fire Reviews

James Baldwin: Living in Fire by Bill V. Mullen

James Baldwin: Living in Fire

Bill V. Mullen

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Pluto Press
Publisher: Pluto Press
Publication date: 20 Sep 2019
ISBN: 9780745338545

The first biography of the great American writer in over a decade

4 stars out of 5
7 Dec 2019

"his writing and speaking resonate with even those who do not look, believe or love as he did"

In this new biography, Bill V. Mullen employs Baldwin’s ever-evolving radical politics as a way of exploring what he wrote and what he said. I feared at first this might be a limiting way to understand him (I’d like to think we are all more than the sum of our expressed political beliefs), but it actually serves as a useful filter to approach the life and art. Since political beliefs do grow out of personal experience, Mullen uses Baldwin’s politics as a way of reverse engineering him to illuminate why he does what he does.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
Houman Barekat
14 Nov 2019

"A brisk account of the African American writer’s insights on race, class and sexuality, which are more relevant than ever"

ome biographies are weighty, definitive tomes that add substantially to the sum of human knowledge; others are brisker accounts that condense the existing record into a digestible narrative. This new biography of the African American novelist, critic and playwright James Baldwin falls squarely in the latter category, but is well worth a read. It examines the trajectory of Baldwin’s political thought on the interlocking questions of race, class and sexuality. At just under 200 pages, it is a smart and concise introduction to a writer whose trenchant insights into the nature of US politics and culture are as relevant today as they have ever been.