It Depends on the subject matter really.
James Baldwin certainly sent me somewhere, a place I’m still trying to reconcile. But Cornel West’s critical essay (in he and Gates’ Future of the Race) “Black Strivings in a Twilight Civilization” had the most profound affect on my critical thinking, taught me a collection of value lessons inasmuch as how to assess black worth, love, value and commitment to the struggle, and how in fact the struggle is defined, and tantamount to other ethnic/racial ones at the international level – and the role the artist must play. The centrality of Jazz, Blues, Toni Morrison and John Coltrane’s connection to Tolstoy and other Russian artists.
Playwrights Arthur Miller, Ibsen, Albee, Hansberry spoke to my question of how to write the truth about people and places, how to pull back the layers and examine who and what we really are as human beings – Samuel Beckett’s tragicomedy, “Waiting for Godot”, sent me further in existential wrestling with the question of God. Toni Morrison and August Wilson changed my life too. Eric Williams (Capitalism & Slavery), John Blassingame’s (The Slave Community), Manning Marable, all their works are indispensable to my understanding of how I think about history, the black predicament (then and now), and how we arrived at this present point. But Baldwin had the broadest, most human meditation on love. “The Fire Next Time” (and Albert Raboteau’s “Slave Religion”, and Charles Mann’s “1491”) answered many questions which had worried me at the moment . And there are many other books. There can never be one single book.
Push Nevahda Review