If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk

A Novel

Book - 2006
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This novel is 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, the story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions: affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, the author has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2006
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed
ISBN: 9780307275936
Characteristics: 197 p. ; 21 cm
Call Number: BALDWIN, J


From Library Staff

A story of young love in the face of injustice. Tish and Fonny are planning to get married and are looking forward to the birth of their first child when Fonny is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit.

A beautiful story of love in the face of injustice. Tish and Fonny are engaged to be married, until Fonny is falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned. Now their families must work to save Fonny as the lovers face an uncertain future.

Released on December 25, 2018, this movie based on the 1974 novel of the same name tackles racial injustice, the power of family, and the determination of a young Harlem couple in love.

From the critics

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Nov 23, 2020

Quick read. Compelling characters. Frustrating and beautiful.

Nov 04, 2020

Baldwin's novels didn't keep pace with his polemics. Notes of a Native Son is superior to this novel because he gave full rein to his talent for rhetoric. The characters here go through their paces, but the tone is rather bland and I was left with a so-what feeling.

Oct 12, 2020

I find it hard to pick the right words to describe If Beale Street Could Talk. I feel that whatever I write won't really do it justice. It's a slim novel but it packs so many emotions - radiant love, rage, confusion, insecurity, fearlessness, despair, hope. It's raw, unflinchingly honest and beautifully written. It makes your heart soar with the love Tish and Fonny feel for each other and your skin crawl with the horrible injustice they face. And above all it manages somehow to remain hopeful - despite the ordeal, the feeling of being trapped, the poverty, the constant social injustice - you can feel its throbbing, fierce spirit that can't be broken. And Baldwin's voice is damn hard to be silenced.

Aug 10, 2020

Powerful and necessary

Jul 21, 2020

Written in 1974, the story continues into today's world. A beautiful, heart breaking love story with a very sad ending. And a very unexpected ending that makes one wonder how these characters could have proceeded in their lives after all of the pain. A reinforcement of Black Lives Matter, this is a must read.

JCLMELODYK Apr 06, 2020

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones would be a great companion read to this James Baldwin classic because it offers a very different take on a relationship disrupted by an unjust incarceration

Jul 30, 2019

Did not enjoy. Found it difficult to relate to the characters. It seemed obvious that the teenage female narrator was written by a man.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jun 19, 2019

Amazing and powerful...definitely want to circle back around and see the movie. It would be interesting to read this title AND Jones' An American Marriage for a book group and discuss parallels!

Why does the author use Beale Street in the title of a book about New York, when Beale Street is in Memphis? The title even comes from a blues song about Memphis, that goes a bit like this:
"if Beale Street could walk, if Beale Street could talk, married men would have to pack their bags and walk."

Mar 16, 2018

Fast and easy read....Can't wait for the movie adaptation

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