Author Spotlight | James Baldwin

Image via Gale Biography in Context

Who: James Arthur Baldwin

What: American novelist and essayist

When: Born August 2, 1924; died December 1, 1987

Where: Born in Harlem; died in France, where he spent the last 15 years of his life

Work I’ve read:
Go Tell It on the Mountain
The Fire Next Time
If Beale Street Could Talk

Favorite words:

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
“I often wonder what I'd do if there weren't any books in the world.”
“We are very cruelly trapped between what we would like to be and what we actually are. And we cannot possibly become what we would like to be until we are willing to ask ourselves just why the lives we lead on this continent are mainly so empty, so tame, and so ugly.”

For more:

Are you a Baldwin fan? If so, what’s your favorite of his books?

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Author Spotlight | Flannery O’Connor

Author photo from Gale Biography in Context

WHO: Mary Flannery O’Connor

WHAT: A Southern writer known for her short stories, novels, essays, and literary criticism. She was a devout Catholic who suffered from lupus.

WHEN: Born March 25, 1925; died of lupus on August 3, 1964

WHERE: Born in Savannah, Georgia; died in Milledgeville, Georgia

WHY SHE MATTERS: O’Connor has a fiction style that’s all her own. She blends the spiritual and the grotesque, the comic and the tragic, moments of grace and moments of violence. Her work still provokes passionate conversations and shocks with its surprising twists. Her nonfiction writing is full of humor, vulnerability, and spiritual insights. 


The Complete Stories, Mystery and Manners, The Habit of Being


Flannery O'Connor quote that reads: "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally. A higher paradox confounds emotion as well as reason and there are long periods in the lives of all of us, and of the saints, when the truth as revealed by faith is hideous, emotionally disturbing, downright repulsive. Witness the dark night of the soul in individual saints. Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul."
Flannery O'Connor quote that reads: “Faith is what someone knows to 
be true, whether they believe it or not.”
Flannery O'Connor quote that reads: “I can, with one eye squinted, 
take it all as a blessing.”