Walking in the dark

James Baldwin, my father, and me

By Douglas Field

Walking in the dark
Hardcover -
  • Price: £16.99
  • ISBN: 9781526175175
  • Publish Date: Nov 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: Hardcover
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-7517-5
    • Pages: 224
    • Price: £16.99
    • Published Date: November 2024


    A moving exploration of the life and work of the celebrated American writer, blending biography and memoir with literary criticism.

    Since James Baldwin's death in 1987, his writing - including The Fire Next Time, one of the manifestoes of the Civil Rights Movement, and Giovanni's Room, a pioneering work of gay fiction - has only grown in relevance.

    Douglas Field was introduced to Baldwin's essays and novels by his father, who witnessed the writer's debate with William F. Buckley at Cambridge University in 1965. In Walking in the dark, he embarks on a journey to unravel his life-long fascination and to understand why Baldwin continues to enthral us decades after his death.

    Tracing Baldwin's footsteps in France, the US and Switzerland, and digging into archives, Field paints an intimate portrait of the writer's life and influence. At the same time, he offers a poignant account of coming to terms with his father's Alzheimer's disease. Interweaving Baldwin's writings on family, illness, memory and place, Walking in the dark is an eloquent testament to the enduring power of great literature to illuminate our paths.


    'A lyrical and beautifully written tribute to the power of James Baldwin's work and its capacity to shape lives and build relationships.'
    David Olusoga, author of Black and British

    'Douglas Field's Walking in the dark is an intriguing account of the correlations between his father's Alzheimer's disease and the literature of James Baldwin. Rereading Baldwin provided Field with the portal to the intricacy of his father's illness and a deeper understanding of Baldwin's genius. A unique study.'
    Herb Boyd, author of Baldwin's Harlem

    'For me, this is a perfect introduction to Baldwin and a moving reach into the mysteries of dementia, finding gentle connection between the two subjects. Walking in the dark is questioning, difficult and ultimately edifying.'
    Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun

    'Walking in the dark shines needed light not just on the full range of James Baldwin's intellectual contribution, but on the tragic costs and ironic compensations of Alzheimer's, a disease he died too early to face. Seizing Baldwin's centennial as an inspiration for the least indulgent brands of self-reflection and family history, Field reminds us that the value of great writing can be measured in the everyday fates it illuminates as well as the uncommon landscapes it paints.'
    William J. Maxwell, editor of James Baldwin: The FBI File

    'A moving book that blends the personal with the intellectual with grace and precision. Field uses his impressive knowledge of literature to understand the mysteries of our world. This unique work speaks to the endurance of Baldwin's vision and the way his best readers find new paths to approach him.'
    D. Quentin Miller, author of James Baldwin in Context


    Prologue: If we are not ourselves, who are we?
    1 Fathers and illness
    2 Writing home
    3 Some who wander are lost
    4 Mistakes, we'd made a few, too many to mention
    Epilogue: Thou poor ghost


    Douglas Field is a writer and academic who teaches American literature at the University of Manchester. He has published two books on James Baldwin, the most recent of which is All Those Strangers: The Art and Lives of James Baldwin (2015). His work has been published in Beat Scene, The Big Issue, the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, where he has been a regular contributor for twenty years. He is a founding editor of James Baldwin Review.

    Walking in the dark

    By Douglas Field

    Hardcover £16.99 / $24.95

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