“Pavlić offers the most extensive engagement to date with Baldwin’s life-long love affair with black music; but he also provides the most sustained and compelling account of how Baldwin’s work speaks (or sings) to our present global condition.”—Emily Lordi, author of Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature
Today marks the 91st birthday of James Baldwin (1924-1987), a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, and one of America’s foremost writers. More than a quarter-century after his death, Baldwin remains an unparalleled figure in American literature and African American cultural politics.
Next month, Fordham University Press will publish Who Can Afford to Improvise? James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners (978-0-8232-68481, hardcover, 352 pages, 20 b/w illustrations, $29.95, September 2015) an unconventional, lyrical, and accessible meditation on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin and their relationship to the lyric tradition in black music, from gospel and blues to jazz and R&B.
Based on unprecedented access to private correspondence, unpublished manuscripts and attuned to a musically inclined poet’s skill in close listening, Who Can Afford to Improvise? frames a new narrative of James Baldwin’s work and life. The route retraces the full arc of Baldwin’s passage across the pages and stages of his career according to his constant interactions with black musical styles, recordings, and musicians.
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