The Book Experience (Volume 1)

This week we are exploring If Beale Street Could Talk. A new movie adaptation has renewed interest in this 1974 masterpiece.

The Book Experience is an ongoing series dedicated to reading, engaging, and experiencing the full impact of books in our lives. Sign up to get it in your inbox 2x a month.

Black History Month calls us to engage with a brutal history, an ongoing struggle, and pierce through inertia to continue striving for the world that might be possible.

But the forces of inertia are mighty and the history piles on - century after bloody century. But if we look, we can see flashes of light.

For that, we thank James Baldwin for his steel-sharpened words, piercing at the injurious history and illuminating the truth.

This week we are exploring If Beale Street Could Talk. A new movie adaptation has renewed interest in this 1974 masterpiece.

The book is short. It's moving and terrible and beautiful. You will cry at least 3 times. But you will see things a little differently in the light.

Length: 197 pages

Genre: Fiction, Novel

Published: 1974

What is it about?

In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin's story mixes the sweet and the sad.

Why do we love it?

Reading James Baldwin as a lover of words is a singular experience. One has the feeling, in the surety of his expression and the deadly precision of his language, that everything important that could be said has already been said perfectly by him. He is a marvelous manipulator of the English language.

Beyond The Book

Movie Plans This Weekend?

The movie is a wonderful adaptation and truly a must-see!

Watch the Trailer

Meet the Author and Director

Listen to Barry Jenkins (Director of If Beale Street Could Talk and Moonlight) talk about his inspiration from James Baldwin.

Listen to Podcast

What's the Deal with the real Beale?

The movie begins with a quote from Baldwin:

"Beale Street is a street in New Orleans, where my father, where Louis Armstrong and the jazz were born," the quote reads. "Every black person born in America was born on Beale Street, born in the back neighborhood of some American city, whether in Jackson, Mississippi, or in Harlem, New York. Beale Street is our legacy. This novel deals with the impossibility and the possibility, the absolute necessity, to give expression to this legacy.

"Beale Street is a loud street. It is left to the reader to discern a meaning in the beating of the drums."

But was Beale Street actually a known street in New Orleans?

Discover the interesting history

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