In ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, James Baldwin told a moving and painful love story of a black couple against the backdrop of racial injustice set in the Bronx, New York in 70’s. Tish and Fonny were childhood friends turned lovers. One day, Fonny was arrested for a rape he didn’t commit. Framed by a white cop, he was the only black man in a police line-up, and was identified by the woman who was manipulated by the cop to give false testimony. As Fonny was in jail, Tish found out she was pregnant. She and her family as well as Fonny’s family tried many ways to prove Fonny’s innocence.
Though Tish got love and support from her family, Fonny’s family didn’t want to be involved in Fonny’s case except his father. Through profound and suspenseful storytelling, I heart ache for the pain and endurance of the two lovers and some of their family members had to suffer for the injustice. The excitement and anticipation I had for how it might end was profound with each chapter. This is my first novel of Baldwin and it won’t be the last. The writing is rich with exquisite proses and brilliant articulation.
I’ve been meaning to read this book after seeing the movie adaptation which is also good. I couldn’t find the book in any local bookstore. In last December, I found it in a pile of old books at the street-side vendor selling used books. It was published in 1975 but still in a very good condition. The interesting thing is the note written in the first few page of the book by the previous/original owner. He bought it in July 9, 1977 with the money he received for a story he submitted to a magazine. It’s fascinating that the books have written stories in them and other stories oblivious to different people who hold them.