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Book Review: The Fire This Time

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

Edited by Jesmyn Ward and Reviewed by Rosemary Jones

The Fire This Time is a collection of essays by Black authors written in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown deaths/killings and published in 2016. It is in some ways an update to James Baldwin’s The Fire This Time. I found that the essays made me think of many points of view, including one which was looking at Black life from Baldwin’s home in France. The writers of many of these essays have gone on to write important books on the Black experience, including Isabel Wilkerson, Wendy Walters, and Jesmyn Ward, who put together this collection.

One of the most memorable of these essays is by Garnette Cadogan, who moved to New Orleans from his native Jamaica and describes all of the things he did to reduce peoples’ fear of him when he took long walks around the city, as he had been accustomed to do in Jamaica. Included are wearing khakis and a button-down shirt, and of course, taking a subservient attitude if questioned.

This book is well worth reading; in fact, when I picked it up to get details, I thought maybe I should just sit down and read it again.

Check out The Fire This Time, and many other books, from the Covenant Library!

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