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In this audiobook review, we will explore “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race,” a collection edited by Jesmyn Ward. The book features essays, poems, and personal reflections from a diverse group of voices, discussing the complex topic of race in America. The audiobook is a powerful listening experience, amplifying the impact of the contributors’ messages.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Fire This Time” is a highly relevant and timely collection that tackles the topic of race in America through the perspectives of a diverse group of contributors.
  • This audiobook review highlights the impact and importance of this thought-provoking collection in promoting dialogue and understanding about race in America.
  • The audiobook narrators enhance the listening experience and bring the contributors’ words to life.
  • “The Fire This Time” has received critical acclaim and sparked meaningful conversations about race among readers and literary critics.
  • We recommend this audiobook to anyone interested in exploring the complexities of race in America and gaining a deeper understanding of this important topic.

Book Overview

In “The Fire This Time,” editor Jesmyn Ward compiles a diverse collection of essays, poems, and personal narratives centered on the topic of race in America. Published in 2016, this powerful book serves as a response to James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time” and provides a contemporary perspective on the ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States.

The various contributors of “The Fire This Time” offer distinct perspectives on what it means to be Black in America, with topics ranging from police brutality and white supremacy to cultural identity and representation. Through their personal stories and reflections, the contributors illuminate the complexities of race relations in America and highlight the ongoing work needed to create a more just and equitable society.

One of the strengths of “The Fire This Time” is its ability to connect personal experiences and insights to broader social issues related to race. Jesmyn Ward’s careful curation of the essays and poems creates a cohesive and powerful message that offers hope and inspiration for those seeking to better understand and address the ongoing struggles for racial justice in America.

The Fire This Time is a must-read for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of race in America. Its powerful collection of essays and poems offers compelling insights into the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

Jesmyn Ward: Editor’s Perspective

As the editor of “The Fire This Time,” Jesmyn Ward brings a unique perspective to this important collection. Ward, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, is a highly regarded writer and professor known for her works that explore the experiences of Black people in the American South. In “The Fire This Time,” Ward amplifies the voices of the new generation, providing a platform for them to share their thoughts and experiences on race in America.

Ward believes that it is essential for new voices to be heard when it comes to discussions about race. In the introduction to the collection, she writes, “When James Baldwin published The Fire Next Time in 1963, he wrote as though he had nothing left to lose. He wrote as though he were writing for posterity, as though he were writing for me. I first read his seminal work twenty-five years ago, and what impressed me most, besides Baldwin’s utter fearlessness and brilliance, was his youthful certainty that he had something important to say, that he had a responsibility to try to say it, and that he had to risk himself to do so. And this is precisely what I see in these pages: the attempt to ‘risk everything,’ as Baldwin said so long ago, to articulate something essential about our times and expose the consequences of remaining silent about race in America.”

Ward’s guidance and contributions as an editor have proven invaluable in shaping this collection into a powerful and thought-provoking work.

The Contributors and Their Insights

“The Fire This Time” features a diverse group of contributors with unique perspectives on race in America. Throughout this audiobook, they share their insights on the impact of race on society, politics, and personal experiences.

Toni Morrison

“Race is the least reliable information you can have about someone. It’s real information, but it tells you next to nothing.”

Toni Morrison, a renowned novelist and editor, emphasizes the complexity of race as a social construct. Her interview tackles the issue of racial prejudices and how it shapes perceptions of others, commenting on how it is prevalent in today’s society.

Kevin Young

“One of the things about the blues spirit is resilience. It’s defiance. It’s taking the worst thing and making something powerful into power.”

Kevin Young is a poet and teacher. In his contribution, he explores the spirit of the blues and its importance as a form of resistance during times of injustice.

Edwidge Danticat

“Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of intimidation.”

Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author, discusses the power of literature and the importance of reading as a resistance tool. She highlights the significance of diverse voices in literature, providing insights into the different perspectives that exist on race and culture.

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The diverse group of contributors in “The Fire This Time” provides a wealth of insights and perspectives on race in America. Their contributions offer a thought-provoking examination of the topic and the impact it has on individuals and society as a whole.

Audiobook Narration

Listening to “The Fire This Time” audiobook is an immersive experience that effectively conveys the diverse voices and perspectives presented in the book. The narration by Janina Edwards is clear and engaging, capturing the nuances of each author’s unique writing style. Edwards’ tone and pacing allow the listener to fully absorb the weight and importance of each essay while staying engaged throughout the audiobook.

The audiobook format also enhances the listener’s ability to fully appreciate the themes and messages of “The Fire This Time.” As opposed to reading the essays individually, listening to them in succession provides a more comprehensive understanding of the complex issues surrounding race in America.

Overall, the audiobook narration of “The Fire This Time” elevates the collection to a new level of emotional impact and relevance for listeners. It is a highly recommended way to experience this powerful piece of literature.

Impact and Relevance

As a thought-provoking collection, The Fire This Time has had a significant impact on readers and the literary landscape at large. Through its diverse voices and nuanced perspectives, the audiobook promotes meaningful conversations about race in America, making it a compelling listen for individuals from all walks of life.

The relevance of The Fire This Time cannot be overstated, as race remains a pertinent and divisive topic in society. By providing a platform for new voices to share their experiences and insights, Jesmyn Ward’s collection contributes to a broader understanding of race and its multifaceted effects on individuals and communities.

Impact and Relevance

Impact Relevance
Challenging readers to confront their own biases and assumptions Offering new perspectives on a topic that continues to be relevant and divisive
Facilitating important conversations about race and racism Encouraging a deeper understanding of the complex history and ongoing effects of racial inequality
Emphasizing the importance of hearing diverse voices in discussions about race Contributing to ongoing efforts to promote social justice and equity

“This collection emphasizes the urgency and importance of listening to a new generation of voices on the topic of race in America, underscoring the need for continued dialogue and action in the pursuit of social justice.”

Critical Reception

The Fire This Time has received critical acclaim for its thought-provoking content and poignant examination of race in America. The New York Times Book Review calls it “an extraordinary collection,” praising the “rich diversity of voices” and the varied perspectives represented within the book.

The Atlantic notes that “The Fire This Time is a call to action, an essential text in this new era of civil rights.” The magazine lauds the contributors for their “insightful and stirring essays.”

Even Oprah Winfrey took note of the book, selecting it as a New York Times Bestseller and including it in her book club. In her review, Oprah offers high praise, saying “These searing essays are a testament to Jesmyn Ward’s literary vision, her empathy, and her understanding of the importance of living history, of making it speak.”

Themes Explored

“The Fire This Time” explores a myriad of complex themes relating to race in America. One of the most prominent themes is the ongoing struggle for black Americans to attain equality in all aspects of life. Throughout the audiobook, there is a continuous call to action for society to dismantle systemic oppression and work towards true equality.

Another prevalent theme is the importance of acknowledging and accepting the diversity within the black community. In “The Fire This Time,” differing viewpoints and experiences are presented, highlighting the need to embrace these differences rather than dismiss them.

The audiobook also delves into the historical trauma that has impacted the black community, from slavery to modern-day police brutality, and the necessity of confronting this trauma to facilitate healing and progress.

“…this collection of narratives illustrates the need to confront America’s damaged history of race as part of the way to move forward…”

Through “The Fire This Time,” readers are also encouraged to challenge their own preconceptions and biases surrounding race and to actively educate themselves to become informed advocates for racial justice.

The themes explored in “The Fire This Time” make it a vital and relevant audiobook for those seeking a deeper understanding of race in America and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

Personal Reflections

After listening to “The Fire This Time,” we were left with a profound sense of contemplation and introspection. The diverse perspectives shared by the contributors allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of race in America.

The audiobook was thoughtfully narrated, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the stories and experiences shared. We were moved by the emotions conveyed and were often left in awe of the contributors’ eloquence and bravery in sharing their personal stories.

The Fire This Time is essential listening and provides a nuanced and thought-provoking reflection on the current state of race relations in America. It challenged us to consider our own beliefs and biases, and we would highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their understanding of this critical issue.


If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of race in America, we highly recommend reading or listening to “The Fire This Time” audiobook. This collection provides a diverse range of perspectives that offer valuable insights and thought-provoking discussions on the topic of race.

The audiobook narration is exceptional, enhancing the overall listening experience, and the contributors provide unique perspectives that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Whether you are an educator, activist, or simply someone looking to broaden your knowledge on this important issue, “The Fire This Time” is a book that we highly recommend.



In conclusion, “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race” is a compelling and timely audiobook that offers a fresh perspective on the complex and ongoing conversation about race in America. The thoughtfully curated collection of essays and poetry is edited by Jesmyn Ward, a renowned writer and editor who brings insight and empathy to this important topic.

Through the diverse voices of its contributors, “The Fire This Time” explores the impact of race on American society and offers a range of insights into the experiences of people of color. The audiobook narration enhances the impact of the essays and poetry, making it an engaging and thought-provoking listening experience.

We believe that “The Fire This Time” has the potential to foster meaningful conversations about race and its impact on society. We recommend this audiobook to anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of this important topic and encourage others to join the conversation.

Overall, this audiobook review of “The Fire This Time” highlights its significance and relevance in our current cultural climate. We hope that this collection will continue to inspire and educate listeners for years to come.


Is “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race” available as an audiobook?

Yes, “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race” is available as an audiobook.

Who edited “The Fire This Time”?

Jesmyn Ward edited “The Fire This Time”.

What is the purpose of “The Fire This Time”?

“The Fire This Time” aims to provide a platform for diverse voices to discuss the complex topic of race in America.

What are some of the themes explored in “The Fire This Time”?

“The Fire This Time” explores themes such as systemic racism, identity, police brutality, and the Black experience in America.

Who are the contributors to “The Fire This Time”?

“The Fire This Time” features contributions from various writers, poets, and intellectuals who offer their unique insights on race in America.

How does the audiobook narration enhance the listening experience of “The Fire This Time”?

The audiobook narration of “The Fire This Time” brings the diverse voices and emotions of the contributors to life, enriching the overall listening experience.

What impact has “The Fire This Time” had on discussions about race?

“The Fire This Time” has made a significant impact by fostering meaningful conversations about race and encouraging a deeper understanding of its complexities.

What has been the critical reception of “The Fire This Time”?

“The Fire This Time” has received critical acclaim, with many reviewers praising its thoughtfulness, timeliness, and powerful exploration of race.

How did “The Fire This Time” personally impact readers?

Readers have been deeply moved by “The Fire This Time,” sharing personal reflections on how it challenged their perspectives and evoked strong emotions.

Who would benefit from reading or listening to “The Fire This Time”?

“The Fire This Time” is recommended for anyone seeking to gain a deeper understanding of race in America and engage in meaningful conversations on the topic.

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