In this fraught election year, The Center for Fiction was proud to present a special performance of James Baldwin’s essay “The White Problem” by multidisciplinary art-ivist and actor Reggie D. White, directed by stage director and theatre artist Raelle Myrick-Hodges. Baldwin’s observations of racial inequality and civil unrest resonate as deeply now as they did in 1964, the year the essay was written.
Erroll McDonald, Chair of the Board of Directors at the Center for Fiction and Executive Editor in the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group of Penguin Random House, who was also one of James Baldwin’s editors, hosted the live-streamed stage performance.
The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings
By James Baldwin; Edited by Randall Kenan
Published by Vintage
A revelation by an American literary master: a gathering of essays, articles, polemics, reviews, and interviews that have never before appeared in book form.
James Baldwin was one of the most brilliant and provocative literary figures of the past century, renowned for his fierce engagement with issues haunting our common history. In The Cross of Redemption we have Baldwin discoursing on, among other subjects, the possibility of an African-American president and what it might mean; the hypocrisy of American religious fundamentalism; the black church in America; the trials and tribulations of black nationalism; anti-Semitism; the blues and boxing; Russian literary masters; and the role of the writer in our society.
Prophetic and bracing, The Cross of Redemption is a welcome and important addition to the works of a cosmopolitan and canonical American writer who still has much to teach us about race, democracy, and personal and national identity. As Michael Ondaatje has remarked, “If van Gogh was our nineteenth-century artist-saint, Baldwin [was] our twentieth-century one.”