Staff recommendations, guest essays, and curated reading lists.
After Trayvon Martin was murdered, Jesmyn Ward went looking for community. She went to Twitter, where she knew people would be outraged. It didn’t last, though; other topics took over. She wanted more. She wanted something she could hold. The Fire This Time is that book. It is a must-read. Recommended By Britt A., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A surprise New York Times bestseller, these groundbreaking essays and poems about race — collected by National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward and written by the most important voices of her generation — are "thoughtful, searing, and at times, hopeful. The Fire This Time is vivid proof that words are important, because of their power to both cleanse and to clarify" (USA TODAY).
In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. "An absolutely indispensable anthology"(Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.
Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America. We’ve made significant progress in the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essays were published, but America is a long and painful distance away from a "post-racial society" — a truth we must confront if we are to continue to work towards change. Baldwin’s "fire next time" is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about; The Fire This Time "seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward" (Vogue).
"...the prose and poetry contained in this concise volume, written by literary luminaries... is illuminating and even cathartic.... Ward's reflections on race and racism, along with those of 17 other writers, are thoughtful, searing, and at times, hopeful.... With the divisions in our nation starker than they've been in many years, it is clear that words are not enough to bridge inequities. But The Fire This Time is vivid proof that words are important, because of their power to both cleanse and to clarify." USA Today
"Perhaps what The Fire This Time does best is to affirm 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." Vogue
"The Fire This Time is a powerful, rewarding read that gets to the heart of what it means to be black in America today." The Root
About the Author
Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and was a recipient of a Stegner Fellowship, a John and Renee Grisham Writers Residency, and the Strauss Living Prize. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University and author of the novels Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, which won the 2011 National Book Award. She is also the author of the memoir, Men We Reaped, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and the Media for a Just Society Award. She lives in Mississippi.