Rising on Amazon is The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward (S&S/Scribner). The jump coincides with a featured interview on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday.
National Book Award–winner Ward talks with host Audie Cornish about her new essay collection and how she and her fellow essayists included in the book respond to the current state of race in America. The collection brings James Baldwin’s 1963 seminal book, The Fire Next Time to the present day. Contributors include Edwidge Danticat, Claudia Rankine, Natasha Trethewey, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.
Ward says that few of the essays address the future “because this moment can feel so overwhelming” and discusses what it means, “as Claudia Rankine says, to be in a perpetual state of mourning.”
She also talks about the importance of the Presidency of Barack Obama and his statements “that he could be a victim of the kind of senseless, random, state-sanctioned violence that many black Americans have been victim to in the past couple of years … those statements were a revelation … I think it’s really important for us to hear someone in position of power, like the position of power, to say that.”
Reviews and listings are piling up. Bustle includes it on their list of “17 Nonfiction Books Coming in August 2016,” writing “the book explores the progress we’ve made and the work left to be done.”
USA Today is also featuring the collection, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 and saying, “The perils of walking, driving — indeed living — while black have become tragically apparent in recent months … At a time of such tension, The Fire This Time … might seem too much to bear. But ultimately, the prose and poetry contained in this concise volume … is illuminating and even cathartic.”
Vogue says the book affirms “the power of literature and its capacity for reflection and imagination, to collectively acknowledge the need for a much larger conversation, to understand these split-second actions in present, past, and future tense, the way that stories impel us to do. This is a book that seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward.”