The Fire Next Time

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For the 1980s British band, see Fire Next Time (1980s band). For the television film, see The Fire Next Time (film).
The Fire Next Time
First edition cover
Author James Baldwin
Country United States
Language English
Genre Essays
Publisher Dial Press
Publication date
Pages 128

The Fire Next Time is a book by James Baldwin. It contains two essays: "My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation," and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind." The first essay, written in the form of a letter to Baldwin's 14-year-old nephew, discusses the central role of race in American history. The second essay deals with the relations between race and religion, focusing in particular on Baldwin's experiences with the Christian church as a youth, as well as the Islamic ideas of others in Harlem.

The book was first published by The New Yorker and owing to its great success, it was subsequently published in book form by Dial Press in 1963, and in Britain by Penguin Books in 1964; both essays in the book had previously been published in The Progressive and The New Yorker, respectively. Critics greeted the book enthusiastically; it is considered, by some, one of the most influential books about race relations in the 1960s.[1] It was released in an audiobook format in 2008 and narrated by Jesse L. Martin.

The book's title comes from the Negro spiritual line, "God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water but fire next time".[2][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ E. Washington, Robert. The Ideologies of African American Literature: From the Harlem Renaissance. 
  2. ^ Michael Bernick, "Race, Intermarriage and 'The Fire Next Time' in California", Fox & Hounds, 21 August 2012.
  3. ^ F.W. Dupee, "James Baldwin and the 'Man'", New York Review of Books, 1 June 1963

External links[edit]