Please join Valerie Stivers and Hank Zona for a virtual wine tasting on Friday, December 18, at 6 P.M. on The Paris Review’s Instagram account. For more details, visit our events page, or scroll down to the bottom of the article.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” So read the inspirational quote in the front window of my Brooklyn gourmet market the day I shopped for a meal celebrating the work and life of James Baldwin (1924–1987). These words, coincidentally but not surprisingly, are from Baldwin, who is the man of the moment again thanks to the extraordinary relevance of his writing to today’s America.
Baldwin as a novelist is perhaps best known for Giovanni’s Room and Another Country, the former a gay man’s self-reckoning and the latter a brutal and tragic wrestling with being Black in America. He is known to a lesser extent for having lived most of his adult life abroad, first in Paris and then in the Provençal town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, though he always kept up his connection to the Harlem of his birth and was an active participant in the U.S. civil rights movement. Intense and multitalented, Baldwin was also a playwright—he loved actors and the theater—and a critic and essayist. His nonfiction collections Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time have predicted the future to an astonishing degree. Read More