©1990 Gloria Baldwin Karefa-Smart; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
In this novel Baldwin presents a realistic portrait of artistic young people in New York in the early 1960s. The most compelling character, the tormented black musician Rufus, is alive for only the first portion of the book, yet he casts his shadow over everything. Baldwin shows how even well-meaning whites who try to create friendship or love across the racial barrier often have no idea of the emotional sorrow they are up against or the further sorrow they may inadvertently cause. This novel also explores the conflicts that can arise among a group of struggling artists when one of their number becomes successful. As well, the novel includes some frank but well-written sex scenes, including homosexual encounters. Some may find this novel overly dark and full of conflict. Certainly, it is not a light or cheerful book, but it is an important work.
I first read this book in the early 70s at the behest of a friend who was trying to explain what it was like to be black and gay. I was overwhelmed by the beauty, the delicacy and the anger of Baldwin's words. I knew I would never forget how much pain and loneliness was part of that life. Baldwin's people were well delineated, but the plot was missing an ending.
Hearing this book now, instead of reading, made the book as fresh as the first time I read it. Despite any faults inherent in the novel, I still recommend this book and looking past those faults into the heart of a nab who he felt he didn't belong.
This is a beautiful piece by Baldwin. So tainted that it is perfect. The narrator does a great job inflecting and changing pitches to keep the listener interested. hopefully Amazon will catch on and start using these voices for the text to speech option in Kindle! Great book, great audio, highly recommended.
I am a live storyteller who devours huge amounts of audio books to study classics and new books so I can tell new stories.
Another Country ranks as the best James Baldwin audiobook I have listened to so far. It felt like Baldwin was speaking directly to me. He was ahead of his time and hos book is still relevant with its discussions on race, sex, and identity. The freshness of his prose was like jazz to me ears.
Other books I compared Another Country to are Baldwin's Go Tell It On the Mountain and Giovanni's Room. Baldwin's jazzy writing style in Another Country rocked and rattled me. Of the three books, I found this to be the most relevant and accessible to me because of the questions the characters struggled with.
Rufus Scott's slow descent into suicide when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge riveted me because Baldwin made me feel his pain and isolation. I have been there myself. Rufus' death early in the book sets off a chain of events that impacted his family and friends who had to deal with the aftermath. Even though he was not present for four-fifths of the book, he exerted a ghost presence on all.
Once again, Rufus was the most memorable character in Another Country. Had James Baldwin not moved to Paris, he would have turned out like Rufus. Had I not moved to San Francisco, I would have turned out like Rufus, too. There are some places and circumstances that are too toxic for personal and spiritual growth.A person implodes if a way out is not found.
Dion Graham gives a masterful performance. He portrays African American, Southerner, Puerto Rican, and French accents with skill and craft. His performance made for a rich listening experience.
This story is as powerful and provocative today as it was when it was first written. Baldwin paints a brilliant picture with his words filled with color and emotions, like listening to an extraordinary jazz piece. Graham add such vibrant life to the characters and creates a mood that often becomes hypnotic and memorizing. I was captivated from the first paragraph to the last word uttered. I was familiar with Baldwin from reading his other works some 30 years earlier. How did I ever miss this one? It's his masterpiece of vision and masterful story telling of an era long lost.
This is not a novel for everyone, has themes of strong sexual situations, racism, and the violent nature of lost souls. But it's all the things l love that define the human condition.
My second read of James Baldwin at sixty six year of age I wonder why I missed this for so long. I will quench my thrust with more and more. I normally do not read friction. Thank you.
Baldwin is a master of dialog. It is a discussion on power and love. It is well told through multiple characters with no one being the main character. I'm about to listen to it again so I can glean more meaning.
The narrator was very good about setting the tone of the novel (with the exception of some horrible foreign accents) and did not distract from the story itself.
The prose and pace of the book are emotional and the conversations the characters have seem like they should be outdated but as it turns out, they were ahead of their time. This story is, unfortunately, still very relevant...
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