It’s only right that my first literary post features my favourite writer of all time – James Baldwin.
For as long as I can remember, my mother insisted that I read his work, I’ve always been a bookworm, but for whatever reason, I never got round to reading Baldwin’s work. I’m not sure what the turning point was, but eventually, I came to my senses and purchased Early Novels & Stories, which features his well-known works such as Go Tell It on the Mountain and Giovanni’s Room.
Three pages into reading and my edges were snatched clean. Never in my life have I aspired to write like somebody else, sure I’ve admired many writers and could name my favourites at the drop of a hat, but this was different.
Three pages into reading my first Baldwin novel and my edges were snatched clean.
Baldwin’s style is otherworldly; his use of language and his storytelling skills are extraordinary. His writing is engaging, each word paints vivid imagery; when he takes you to church he takes you to church. You can picture the altar, you feel the heat rising as the Pastor conducts his sermon, you anticipate the wig sliding off the church sister in front of you. It’s that real.
Immediately I wanted to study everything about the man: his influences, his other works, his essays, his biography, I needed to soak up everything there was to know about him. Finally, I could identify with the passion and excitement that my mother had for Baldwin’s work and it was only right that I passed the torch on to someone else.
I gifted a friend with a copy of Go Tell It on the Mountain (obviously I wasn’t lending my own) and insisted that they read it; I evangelised and periodically checked in on them until they read it and confirmed that they too were blown away by Baldwin as a writer and storyteller.
If you happen to be living under a rock like I was, I highly suggest that you become familiar with James Baldwin, especially if you are a writer or enjoy good literature. Not only was he an accomplished writer, but a great thinker and social critic, who said many insightful things about life as a black person in America, many of which are still relevant today…
Are you a fan of James Baldwin’s work? Comment below and let me know which ones are your favourite!