Of the books by James Baldwin that I have read so far (The Fire Next Time, No Name In the Street and Notes of a Native Son), this was the one I enjoyed the least. Notes of a Native Son reads like a random collection of rants from Baldwin about his life growing up as a preacher’s kid in Harlem, to anecdotes about racism and the miserable circumstances of Black people in all facets of life in America including in Hollywood films, and somewhat peculiarly, his travels abroad in Europe. In fact, I found Baldwin’s experience of being arrested in Paris perhaps the most intriguing part of the discourse in this book since it shed a light on the lives of black intellectuals who had fled the United States in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s for greener pastures in Europe (where race ‘didn’t matter much’). Disappointingly, I didn’t detect a coherent thread weaving together the various stories that would encourage me to highly recommend this book. Nevertheless, I appreciated certain aspects of Notes of a Native Son. In particular, Baldwin’s characteristic authoritative, yet fluidly persuasive style of writing, which eloquently compels you sentence after sentence; not to mention his impressive breadth and depth of knowledge of the literary and artistic canon, which he uses as a backdrop for many of his profound insights. Ultimately, what is clear after reading Notes of a Native Son is that Baldwin was a fascinating man who was passionate about combatting racism and improving the plight of Black people in America.
Have you read Notes of a Native Son? or any of James Baldwin’s other works? What are your thougts after reading his writing? What do you find most striking about his literary work? Thanks as always for stopping by! Please feel free to share your thoughts or reactions in a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.