james baldwin

Reading James Baldwin reminded me of Carlos Bulosan

This is a mini-thinkpiece of James Baldwin and Carlos Bulosan’s works. I am hoping to write full book reviews of their works soon.

I have been trying my best to convert my 2021 self to reading more classics and modern classics books, hence I joined Goodreads, I bought a lot of Penguin books, and I started writing book reviews in this blog to motivate me to read more.

When I did a simple Instagram hashtag research on #penguinmodernclassics, one of the most popular books I saw was by James Baldwin. Upon doing further research, I found out that James Baldwin apparently is a popular author on racism and class issues in the United States. Given all what’s happening in the US right now in terms of #BlackLivesMatter campaign, I think its popularity just makes total sense.

I bought this set of Penguin Modern box set and one of the books was Dark Days by James Baldwin. Also, since I vowed to read more classics and modern classics, I found out that one of his novels, The Fire Next Time, is only 96 pages (something I could read in one sitting).

James Baldwin and Carlos Bulosan: Dark Days cover
James Baldwin and Carlos Bulosan: The Fire Next Time cover

MEETING THE MAN: JAMES BALDWIN IN PARIS

As a non-American who can only see things in media (both mainstream and new media) and can only listen to my friends’ anecdotes, I had to Google a lot of things to be more aware of the extent of racism in the US and in the bigger Western world. (Mind you, I had to Google what ‘Juneteenth’ is when I first heard it in some American TV series that I can no longer remember). This led me to more of James Baldwin (he really is the guy for this) and I saw a newly-released film about him, Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris.

While I can’t write so much about James Baldwin’s viewpoints at this stage (I still need to read more to better understand what he believes in), I got reminded of a novel I read for my Great Works class (GREATWK) back in college. I was thankful to have the best set of passionate Literature Professors who helped me develop my love for the literary work (I never believed in reading novels, fictions, and other literary works because I used to believe that my limited time in this world should be dedicated to reading the newspapers and academic textbooks. Don’t worry, I already realized how toxic that was lol).

America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

James Baldwin and Carlos Bulosan: America Is in the Heart cover

Back in my college Great Works class, we were asked to read the book America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan. This classic novel has opened my eyes about the Filipino migration movement to the United States, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. I came to realize that there is a long history as to how things are this way now in the American society, especially in terms of its multiculturalism.

For some reason, I found myself obsessing to finish America is in the Heart as soon as possible because Carlos Bulosan has just an excellent storytelling skills. I read it on the train on my way to school, I read it while eating my lunch, I read it during breaks, and I read it on weekends. Even if there are a lot of parts I could not relate to, I had a picture as to what the past international society looks like. You see, I’m all about learning as many things as I can in this world, no matter which manner.

It’s about time for me to get to know more about James Baldwin’s works and re-read Carlos Bulosan’s America is in the Heart so that I can have more solid examples in my lectures whenever talking about global issues.

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