Nobody Knows My Name

Baldwin, James. Collected Essays: Nobody Knows My Name. New York: Library of America, 1998.

Nobody Knows My Name is a collection of essays continued from Notes From a Native Son. While the essays are less biting than those in Notes they are just as honest and clear about the Negro condition at the time of Baldwin’s writing. He has a sharp eye for the social and economical position of the time. As he was frequenting Paris I find it interesting that for Baldwin the question of color did not exist in Europe whereas in America he was afraid to listen to Bessie Smith or even touch watermelon. It is in Europe that Baldwin discovered what it mean to be an American.

Interesting quotes, “I love to talk to people, all kinds of people, and almost everyone, as I hope we still know, loves a man who loves to listen” (p 140) and “No Negro in this country has ever made that much money and it will be a long time before any Negro does” (p 173). Baldwin wrote those words in the early 60s. I wonder what he would think of Oprah…

Reason read: Baldwin was born in August.

Author fact: Baldwin was born a New Yorker but died in Paris.

Book trivia: This isn’t really a book, but a short (150 pages) essay.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in two different chapters. The first called “African American Fiction: He Say” (p 10). Not entirely accurate since this is nonfiction (another example of Pearl filling space in a chapter). The second time Nobody Knows My Name is mentioned is in the chapter called “Essaying Essays” (p 81) which is the more accurate place for this to be mentioned.

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