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  • Published: 19 January 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784744441
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $35.00

Begin Again

James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today




A searing indictment of racial injustice in America - inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin - to help us understand the present moment, and imagine a new future into being

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.' JAMES BALDWIN

A searing indictment of racial injustice in America - inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin - to help us understand the present moment, and imagine a new future into being

The struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the presidency of Donald Trump, a president whose time in the White House represents the latest failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race.

For James Baldwin, a similar attempt to force a confrontation with the truth of America's racism came in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the years from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin - the great creative artist, often referred to as 'the poet of the revolution' - became a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair.

America is at a crossroads. Drawing insight and inspiration from Baldwin's writings, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance through our own era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Seamlessly combining biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a more just future.

'Begin Again is that rare thing: an instant classic' Pankaj Mishra

'Incredibly moving and stirring' Diana Evans

Winner of the Stowe Prize 2021
A TIME 100 Must-Read Book of 2020
A Washington Post Notable Work of Non-Fiction 2020

  • Published: 19 January 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784744441
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $35.00

Praise for Begin Again

Timely, powerful . . . Glaude invites us with him to "read Baldwin to the end" and reveals a writer, not spent, but rather illuminating the path beyond despair - the work of a saint if ever there was such a thing . . . Glaude argues . . . the true measure of Baldwin's greatness: an enduring testament to his love and the belief that the US can and must be something more than it is

Ashish Ghadiali, Observer

Incredibly moving and stirring. Begin Again contextualises this moment of heartbreak at racism's clutch at the throat of the world . . . It underlines just how relevant and crucial Baldwin's work has always been and always will be

Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People

A powerful indictment of racial injustice in the US written in conversation with the writings of James Baldwin, one of many thinkers who worked tirelessly against white supremacy, and whose wisdom should be part of our conversations today

New Statesman

James Baldwin's stature as an artist and thinker grows and grows while the reputations of most of his much-ballyhooed contemporaries shrink. There is no more eloquent guide to his bracing ideas about our past and future than Eddie Glaude, and Begin Again is that rare thing: an instant classic

Pankaj Mishra, author of The Age of Anger

Begin Again speaks to a global Black Lives Matter movement . . . A riveting read

Raymond Antrobus, author of The Perseverance

An urgent, deeply interesting book

Rachel Cooke, Observer, *Books to Look Out For 2021*

Begin Again is a groundbreaking and informative guide to Baldwin and his era

Washington Post

Eddie Glaude has plunged to the profound depths and sublime heights of Baldwin's prophetic challenge to our present-day crisis. This book is, undoubtedly, the best treatment we have of Baldwin's genius and relevance . . . [a] masterpiece

Cornel West, author of Democracy Matters and Race Matters

How often, amid the ongoing violence and division of our current chapter of American history, have I been made to recall not only the piercing brilliance of James Baldwin, but also his discomfiting prescience? "An old world is dying," he wrote in No Name in the Street, "and a new one, kicking in the belly of its mother, time, announces that it is ready to be born." The magic of Begin Again is that it allows us to ponder Baldwin both in his perilous era and in our own. Remarkable, and remarkably relevant

Tracy K. Smith, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning Life on Mars

A magnificent book filled with the type of passion, lyricism, and fire that James Baldwin commands and deserves. Eddie Glaude Jr. takes us on a unique and illuminating journey through Baldwin's life and writings by both physically and philosophically following in his footsteps. In this phenomenal work, we are treated to a timeless and spellbinding conversation between two brilliant writers, thinkers, and active witnesses, addressing issues - past, present, and future - that are necessary, urgent, and vital for our survival

Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I'm Dying and Everything Inside

In this powerful and elegant book on James Baldwin, Eddie Glaude weaves together a biography, a meditation, a literary analysis, and a moral essay on America. Like Baldwin's own essays and books, it is at times both loving and angry, challenging and uplifting, and always beautiful. Both Baldwin and this book speak directly to today

Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci

A powerful study of how to bear witness in a moment when America is being called to do the same

TIME 100 Must-Read Books of 2020

Glaude's book is neither straight biography nor straight history, but rather historiography, reaching back and forth in time to show what Baldwin - whose centenary will be celebrated in 2024 - has to say to us and to teach us through his many writings at a time when "the idea of America is in deep trouble"

Liz Thomson, Arts Desk

Powerful . . . Baldwin did not expect or want history to be rewritten but, rather, honestly confronted

Andrew Rosenheim, Tablet

Begin Again is an essayistic marvel, circling and folding back on itself as Baldwin's musings in the past and Glaude's analysis of the present give meaning to each other . . . a scholarly, deeply personal, and yet immensely readable meditation, a masterful reckoning with the "latest betrayal" of the American ideal

Sara Collins, Guardian

A powerful, genre-defying work

David Terrien, ArtReview

Begin Again is an unparalleled masterpiece of social criticism. Glaude thinks alongside America's finest essayist, matching the master's firepower, brilliance, courage, and sensitivity at every turn . . . This book is precisely the witness we need for our treacherous times

Imani Perry, author of Breathe and Looking for Lorraine

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