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James Baldwin and The Evidence of Things Not Seen
Holly Lowe Jones

This article illustrates the multi-generational influence of Baldwin’s The Evidence of Things Not Seen on my path as a Black scholar and draws connections between representation, identity, kinship, and the interdependence of Black writers in the fight for social justice. Through tracing Baldwin’s working relationship with my father, former editor of Playboy magazine Walter Lowe Jr., I hope to illuminate the relational underpinnings of Baldwin’s work on the Atlanta child murders, thereby foregrounding the complexities of Black life. This article recognizes Baldwin’s work in Evidence as more than just a new-wave logistical, strategic, textual model of resistance but also as a mode of artistic production arising from a tradition that is deeply felt, collaborative, improvisational, and ancestrally rooted.

James Baldwin Review
An Interview with Cecil Brown
Matt Sandler

Cecil Brown is nearing eighty years old and starting new projects all the time. He is currently writing a historical novel about the life of the enslaved poet George Moses Horton and a memoir about his friendship with James Baldwin. He met Baldwin early in his career, during a trip to Europe after the translation of his first novel, The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger (1969) [trans. La vie et les amours de Mr. Jiveass le Nègre, 1972]. They remained friends until Baldwin’s death in 1987. This interview collates several conversations about Baldwin that took place in December 2022 and January 2023. Brown reflects on their relationship, on Baldwin’s influence for him personally, and on the meaning of Black cultural celebrity more broadly; he also touches on Baldwin’s situation between Black Power and Black feminism, and the ramifications of the politics of the 1970s for the present.

James Baldwin Review
Monika Gehlawat

Using political and critical theory, this article identifies in James Baldwin a model for citizenship unique to the Black artist who assumed the dual responsibilities of art practice and political activism. I engage with Baldwin’s fiction and his writing about other Black artists working in theater, film, dance, and music during the period of the civil rights movement. Across his career, Baldwin’s prevailing view was that, because of their history, Black artists have the singular, and indeed superlative, capacity to make art as praxis. Baldwin explains that the craft of the Black artist depends upon representing truths, rather than fantasies, about their experience, so that they are at once artists pursuing freedom and citizens pursuing justice. This article pays particular attention to the tension between living a public, political life and the need for privacy to create art, and ultimately the toll this takes on the citizen artist. Baldwin demonstrates how the community of mutual support he finds among Black artists aids in their survival. In his writings on Sidney Poitier and Lorraine Hansberry, his friendships with Beauford Delaney and Josephine Baker, as well as his reviews of music and literature, Baldwin assembles a collective he refers to as “I and my tribe.”

James Baldwin Review
A Review
Herb Boyd

This review of the James Baldwin symposium at Virginia State University weighs the insights presented by a number of Black and white scholars, only a few of whom might be considered deeply informed about his life and legacy. Even so, the emerging thinkers provide a wealth of new and interesting perspectives on Baldwin, and the event was highlighted by Molefi Kete Asante’s critical lecture. His comments are a veritable call to arms, an invitation to Baldwin devotees to contend with his conclusions, a process which this article will begin.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Justin A. Joyce

Justin A. Joyce introduces the eighth volume of James Baldwin Review with a discussion of the US Supreme Court, the misdirected uproar over Critical Race Theory, a survey of canonical dystopian novels, and the symbolism of masking during COVID-19.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Michael A. L. Broyles

In this mixture of memoir, reflection, and scholarship, the author details how, during a time of suffering, James Baldwin and singer Celia Cruz helped him understand his tense relationship with his toxic paternal grandparents and celebrate the reclamation of his stifled Mexican heritage.

James Baldwin Review
Circulating Baldwin in Contemporary Europe
Remo Verdickt

For several years now, James Baldwin’s life, portrait, and work have enjoyed a central place in the public eye. Although social and audiovisual media have made significant contributions to Baldwin’s return to the cultural and political limelight, the circulation of his published writings remains a vital part of the author’s ubiquity. Moreover, since Baldwin’s omnipresence in bookstores transcends an American or even Anglophone context, this international and multilingual circulation contributes to Baldwin’s world literary standing, as befits the self-described “transatlantic commuter.” This article moves beyond the customary approach to Baldwin’s published success by tracing presently circulating European translations of his work. The article examines the historical developments in Baldwin’s European circulation-through-translation from the time of his death (1987) up until the present, including brief discussions of the French, Italian, and West German translations from the 1960s onward. Of special interest are the pioneering and dominant roles that French and Italian publishers have played since the late 1990s, and the acceleration in circulation that took place across the continent in the wake of the films I Am Not Your Negro and If Beale Street Could Talk. The article concludes with a few remarks on the translation strategies of several key publishers in France, Italy, Germany, and Romania.

James Baldwin Review
A New Spatiotemporal Logic in James Baldwin’s The Evidence of Things Not Seen
Özge Özbek Akıman

This article examines James Baldwin’s late text The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985) as one of his substantial attempts at “forging a new language,” which he tentatively mentions in his late essays and interviews. As an unpopular and difficult text in Baldwin’s oeuvre, Evidence carries the imprint of a new economy of time, casting the past into the present, and a new economy of space, navigating across other geographies in appraising the serial killings of children in one of Atlanta’s poorest Black neighborhoods. This article suggests that a new economy of time emerges earlier in No Name in the Street (1972), as a result of Baldwin’s self-imposed exile in Europe. The article then analyzes his spatiotemporal logic in the specifics of Evidence with reference to a Black middle class, urbanization, the ghetto, gentrification, and other colonized spaces.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Laughing and Grinning through “Sonny’s Blues”
James Nikopoulos

The protagonists in James Baldwin’s 1957 short story “Sonny’s Blues” are constantly smiling and laughing. The story’s narrator notices these gestures and utilizes them to grasp at clarity when clarity seems out of reach. This article examines the narrator’s focus on this duo of facial expressions which reliably denote positive emotion. The relationship we maintain between our smiles and our laughter structures many of the narrator’s interactions with the story’s hero. More though, this relationship between smiles, laughter, and a kind of joy resembles the relationship Baldwin has described between the blues and the world this genre of music depicts.

James Baldwin Review
A Review of The Amen Corner, 2021
Ijeoma N. Njaka

The author reviews the 2021 production of James Baldwin’s play, The Amen Corner, as directed by Whitney White at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC. After situating the experience of engaging with Baldwin’s art through a constructivist approach to art-based education and learning design, the piece turns to considering the impact of various interpretive materials and the director’s artistic vision in the production. White’s decision to include an epigraph in the production leaves a notable impact, particularly in conversation with Baldwin’s essays, “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare” and “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity.”

James Baldwin Review