Another Country is a novel about love. But it is also about much more. It is a book about racism, sexism, homophobia, religion and intolerance. It is a book about life. It is set in the late 1950s in Greenwich Village, NY and explores the intersection of race, gender and sexuality in the United States in the mid-1950s.
It also explores what means to be an African – American in the Unites States in the 1950s, not only in physical terms, but also mentally and emotionally in the context of racial domination and white supremacy.
The main character is Rufus Scott, an African-American musician whose world has fallen apart. Although Rufus does not appear throughout the entire book, he remains one of the main characters, an absent protagonist. His life, but most of all his death, connect all the other characters, people that lack direction, who struggle for life and love. But love is not always pretty. Love can be painful. And as the characters re-examine their lives and talk endlessly about their passion and the pain – “a powerful and poignant self-examination – always on the brink of despair,” – in the end they are “holding on to a tragicomic hope…..”, they say Yes to life, knowing though, that they will have to pay their dues.
The beauty of this book is just unbelievable, the writing itself is brilliant, sensual, painful and provocative. James Baldwin is making a direct address to the reader, the reader then has no option but to get involved in the story. Another Country is a challenging novel, both shocking and inspirational; it does not make it an easy reading. But I am grateful to have discovered it. It repays more than one careful readings.