We are in Harlem, the black soul of New York City, in the era of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. The narrator of Baldwin's vel is Tish nineteen, and pregnant. Her lover Fonny, father of her child, is in jail accused of rape. Flashbacks from their love affair are woven into the compelling struggle of two families to win justice for Fonny. To this love story James Baldwin brings a spare and impassioned intensity, charging it with universal resonance and power.
Born in Harlem in 1924, Baldwin had an early career as a teenage preacher. He lived in Paris from 1948-1956 and his first novels, the autobiographical GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN and GIOVANNI'S ROOM established him as a promising novelist and anticipated some of the themes of his later works, such as racism and sexuality. He became a prominent spokesperson for racial equality, especially during the civil rights movement. He lived in France during his last years. Baldwin died in 1987.