Dismissing James Baldwin in a sentence?

Among the many charges Joseph Epstein levels at Edmund Wilson in the current issue of Commentary: “Later he much overrated James Baldwin, probably for political reasons.”

Is it even possible to overrate James Baldwin? He’s one of the most versatile and precise and mournful American authors of the last century. If you don’t believe me about the versatility — in which case, you probably read “Sonny’s Blues” in high school and think you’ve got him all figured out — go pick up Giovanni’s Room, Go Tell It on the Mountain, and Going to Meet the Man. Read them back-to-back, and think again.

(Commentary link courtesy of About Last Night.)

Update: Jess Row (The Train to Lo Wu) and Jenny Davidson write in to second Baldwin’s brilliance, and to adjure everyone to read their own favorite Baldwin works: Another Country and Just Above My Head, respectively.


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