By Mashaun D. Simon

Some 30 years since his death, writer James Baldwin is experiencing a resurgence of sorts.
Earlier this year, the documentary film “I Am Not Your Negro” explored America’s history of race and racism through Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, “Remember This House.” And now, news has surfaced that Oscar-winning “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins will be adapting Baldwin’s fifth novel for the big screen.

“I’m thrilled that we appear to be experiencing a well-deserved revival of all things Baldwin,” cultural critic L. Michael Gipson told NBC News. “The planned ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ [movie], like the superb ‘I Am Not Your Negro,’ seems to be an extension of that interest.”
Gipson said he would have personally rather had Jenkins adapt one of Baldwin’s other works — like

“Another Country,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain” or “Just Above My Head” — but he noted that “If Beale Street Could Talk” is timely.

Released in 1974, the novel is about two people in love, Fonny and Tish. And while the story is centered on them, in true Baldwin fashion, the time (1970s), the setting (Harlem) and the circumstance (Fonny is falsely accused of raping a Puerto Rican woman) all serve as major characters in their own right.
Gipson described the novel as a “fairly routine story of a corrupt white cop and the black folks he terrorizes, told from the perspective of the woman of one of the cop’s wrongly imprisoned victims.”

“It’s timely, for sure, but not as groundbreaking as other Baldwin works,” Gipson added.

For Kevin Young, director of New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “If Beale Street Could Talk” has something Baldwin’s other novels do not.

“How many of Baldwin’s books are love stories?” Young asked. “‘Another Country’ was a big book, a sprawling epic, with many characters. ‘Beale Street’ is a more intimate story — it is a love story.”

Read the entire story here.

About The Author

Digital Managing Editor

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.