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If Beale Street Could Talk : Penguin Modern Classics - James Baldwin

If Beale Street Could Talk

Penguin Modern Classics

By: James Baldwin

Paperback | 29 September 1994 | Edition Number 1

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The inspiration for the new film from Oscar award-winning director Barry Jenkins

'Achingly beautiful' Guardian

Harlem, the black soul of New York City, in the era of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. The narrator of Baldwin's novel is Tish nineteen, and pregnant. Her lover Fonny, father of her child, is in jail accused of rape. Flashbacks from their love affair are woven into the compelling struggle of two families to win justice for Fonny. To this love story James Baldwin brings a spare and impassioned intensity, charging it with universal resonance and power.

'If Beale Street Could Talk affirms not only love between a man and a woman, but love of a type that is dealt with only rarely in contemporary fiction - that between members of a family' Joyce Carol Oates

Industry Reviews
This new Baldwin novel is told by a 19-year-old black girl named Tish in a New York City ghetto about how she fell in love with a young black man, Fonny. He got framed on a rape charge and she got pregnant before they could marry and move into their loft; but Tish and her family Finance a trip to Puerto Rico to track down the rape victim and rescue Fonny, a sculptor with slanted eyes and treasured independence. The book is anomalous for the 1970's with its Raisin in the Sun wholesomeness. It is sometimes saccharine, but it possesses a genuinely sweet and free spirit too. Along with the reflex sprinkles of hate-whitey, there are powerful showdowns between the two black families, and a Frieze of people who - unlike Fonny's father - gave up and "congregated on the garbage heaps of their lives." The style wobbles as Tish mixes street talk with lyricism and polemic and a bogus kind of Young Adult hesitancy. Baldwin slips past the conflict between fighting the garbage heap and settling into a long-gone private chianti-chisel-and-garret idyll, as do Fonny and Tish and the baby. But Baldwin makes the affirmation of the humanity of black people which is all too missing in various kinds of Superfly and sub-fly novels. (Kirkus Reviews)

Other Books By James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time : Vintage International - James Baldwin