Go Tell it on the Mountain
James Baldwin's electrifying first novel.
'I had to deal with what hurt me most. I had to deal with my father.'
Drawing on James Baldwin's own boyhood in a religious community in 1930s Harlem, his first novel tells the story of young Johnny Grimes. Johnny is destined to become a preacher like his father, Gabriel, at the Temple of the Fire Baptized, where the church swells with song and it is as if 'the Holy Ghost were riding on the air'. But he feels only scalding hatred for Gabriel, whose fear and fanaticism lead him to abuse his family. Johnny vows that, for him, things will be different. This blazing tale is full of passion and guilt, of secret sinners and prayers singing on the wind.
'His prose hit me, almost winding me with its intensity. I'd never read a novel that described loneliness and desire with such burning eloquence' Douglas Field, Guardian
'A beautiful, enduring, spirtual song of a novel' Andrew O'Hagan
It broke my heart and made me want to jump up and down... It captures an essential aspect of life in America, its contradictions and seductions, that bittersweet mix of love and hate that so many feel towards the country Azar Nafisi Independent
Born in Harlem in 1924, James Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, social critic, and the author of more than twenty books. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay collection The Fire Next Time was a bestseller that made him an influential figure in the civil rights movement. Baldwin spent many years in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in 1987.