Native Sons

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Random House Publishing Group, Mar 12, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
James Baldwin was beginning to be recognized as the most brilliant black writer of his generation when his first book of essays, Notes of a Native Son, established his reputation in 1955. No one was more pleased by the book’s reception than Baldwin’s high school friend Sol Stein. A rising New York editor, novelist, and playwright, Stein had suggested that Baldwin do the book and coaxed his old friend through the long and sometimes agonizing process of putting the volume together and seeing it into print. Now, in this fascinating new book, Sol Stein documents the story of his intense creative partnership with Baldwin through newly uncovered letters, photos, inscriptions, and an illuminating memoir of the friendship that resulted in one of the classics of American literature. Included in this book are the two works they created together–the story “Dark Runner” and the play Equal in Paris, both published here for the first time.

Though a world of difference separated them–Baldwin was black and gay, living in self-imposed exile in Europe; Stein was Jewish and married, with a growing family to support–the two men shared the same fundamental passion. Nothing mattered more to either of them than telling and writing the truth, which was not always welcome. As Stein wrote Baldwin in a long, heartfelt letter, “You are the only friend with whom I feel comfortable about all three: heart, head, and writing.” In this extraordinary book, Stein unfolds how that shared passion played out in the months surrounding the creation and publication of Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son, in which Baldwin’s main themes are illuminated.

A literary event published to honor the eightieth anniversary of James Baldwin’s birth, Native Sons is a celebration of one of the most fruitful and influential friendships in American letters.

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Native sons: a friendship that created one of the greatest works of the 20th century: notes of a native son

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In this microscopic look at a part of Baldwin's life, devoted friend and editor Stein reveals for the first time (through never-before-published material) the process behind the creation of Baldwin's ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

For over three decades, Sol Stein edited and published some of the leading writers of the Twentieth century, including James Baldwin, Dylan Thomas, W. H. Auden, and Lionel Trilling. A prize-winning playwright and the author of nine novels, as well as nonfiction books, screenplays, and TV dramas, Stein lives in New York.

Born in 1924, James Baldwin made a name for himself with his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain in 1953. His legendary Notes of a Native Son appeared two years later, and he went on to publish fiction, poetry, plays, and essays that profoundly influenced the literature of Twentieth-century America. Baldwin died in France in 1987.