by James Baldwin
Only a boy preacher who had grown up to become one of America's most eminent writers could have produced a play like The Amen Corner. For to his first work for the theater James Baldwin brought all the fervor and majestic rhetoric of the storefront churches of his childhood along with an unwavering awareness of the price those churches exacted from their worshipers.
For years Sister Margaret Alexander has moved her Harlem congregation with a mixture of personal charisma and ferocious piety. But when Margaret's estranged husband, a scapegrace jazz musician, comes home to die, she is in danger of losing both her standing in the church and the son she has tried to keep on the godly path.
The Amen Corner is a play about faith and family, about the gulf between black men and black women and black fathers and black sons. It is a scalding, uplifting, sorrowful and exultant masterpiece of the modern American theater.
One of James Baldwin's two plays produced on Broadway, The Amen Corner pulses with the music and energy of America's black church and bristles with the pain and anger of racial injustice.
In 1953, a young James Baldwin published Go Tell It on the Mountain, winning acclaim as a literary star and one of the leading voices of the African-American experience. Although Baldwin would spend the bulk of his adult life in France, his writing always addressed the complexities at the heart of America, viewed through the lens of the consummate outsider.
Paperback: 112 pages