Me and My House

James Baldwin's Last Decade in France

Book Pages: 408 Illustrations: 104 illustrations, incl. 24 in Published: April 2018

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

The last sixteen years of James Baldwin's life (1971–87) unfolded in a village in the South of France, in a sprawling house nicknamed “Chez Baldwin.” In Me and My House Magdalena J. Zaborowska employs Baldwin’s home space as a lens through which to expand his biography and explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity in his complex and underappreciated later works. Zaborowska shows how the themes of dwelling and black queer male sexuality in The Welcome Table, Just above My Head, and If Beale Street Could Talk directly stem from Chez Baldwin's influence on the writer. The house was partially torn down in 2014. Accessible, heavily illustrated, and drawing on interviews with Baldwin's friends and lovers, unpublished letters, and manuscripts, Me and My House offers new insights into Baldwin's life, writing, and relationships, making it essential reading for all students, scholars, and fans of Baldwin.


"Zaborowska's readings into Baldwin's work are thoughtful and illuminating. An opinionated and passionate book on one of the 20th century's most important writers." — Kirkus Reviews

"Zaborowska takes you on an intricate journey in which she explores the central theme of home and what this means in terms of identity and belonging. . . . This book contains vast details of Baldwin’s life in France – full of stunning photographs and beautifully illustrated, it draws on interviews with those closest to him and unpublished letters and works. It dissects, analyses and tries to understand the life lived by Baldwin, particularly how the relationship between social space and architecture is linked to race. It enables readers to reassess the richness and complexity of his writing and gives them an opportunity to understand the man behind the work. . . ." — Kalwant Bhopal, Times Higher Education

"Relying on extensive interviews with Baldwin’s friends and lovers, manuscripts, and unpublished letters, Zaborowska introduces new insights into the writer’s life and work. Me And My House is an essential read for both serious students and scholars, but also fans wishing to know more about the life and motivations of this iconic master." — The Advocate

" [An] extremely sensitive, thorough and well-informed appraisal of Baldwin’s final French sojourn by one of the leading scholars of the writer’s work and life." — Claudine Raynaud, European Journal of American Culture

“Zaborowska delivers a wide-ranging argument for the influence of James Baldwin’s final home in St. Paul-de-Vence in the South of France on his late works. . . . Me and My House’s greatest strengths lie in Zaborowska’s curatorial impulse.”

— Melanie Masterton Sherazi, Studies in the Novel

“Zaborowska describes in full, rich detail the actual home that Baldwin established in the south of France, recreating its physical qualities and also the extraordinary community he assembled there. . . . The image of Baldwin that emerges from this book is therefore quite different from the isolated stranger that previous studies have established.”

— Robert Butler, African American Review

"In Me and My House, Magdalena J. Zaborowska examines the impact and significance of the author's final home on his life and work in ways which open up new avenues of enquiry into the burgeoning field of Baldwin studies." — Douglas Field, Journal of American Studies

“The thing that startles, the trick that steals the breath as one reads Me and My House, is Magdalena J. Zaborowska's unrelenting insistence that James Baldwin was an embodied, social, thriving, and multifaceted individual deeply enmeshed in a vibrantly complicated domesticity. Not only does Zaborowska break through hackneyed accounts of Baldwin's isolation but she also disrupts the clumsy boundaries that separate critic from reader and fiction from criticism, allowing us to understand the work of James Baldwin as not simply material to be studied but also a bright model for the production of our own social and cultural critique.” — Robert F. Reid-Pharr, author of Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post-Humanist Critique

“Magdalena J. Zaborowska is one of the foremost experts in the world on James Baldwin. Given her unparalleled access to an unusually substantial amount of source material and her deep knowledge of her subject, Me and My House offers rich new material and fresh ways of understanding Baldwin's relationship with writers, artists, and activists. Specialists and general readers alike will find this book engaging and enlightening.” — Michele Elam, editor of The Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin


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Price: $29.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Magdalena J. Zaborowska is Professor of Afroamerican and American Studies and the John Rich Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and the author and coeditor of several books, including James Baldwin's Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile, also published by Duke University Press, and How We Found America: Reading Gender through East European Immigrant Narratives.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations  ix
Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction. If I Am a Part of the American House, and I Am: Vitrines, Fragments, Reassembled Remnants  1
1. Foundations, Facades, and Faces: Through the Glass Blackly, or Domesticating Claustrophobic Terror  51
2. Home Matter: No House in the World, or Reading Transnational, Black Queer Domesticity in St. Paul-de-Vence  85
3. Life Material: Haunted Houses and Welcome Tables, or The First Teacher, the Last Play, and Affectations of Disidentification  145
4. Building Metaphors: "Sitting in the Strangest House I Have Ever Known," or Black Heterotopias from Harlem to San Juan, to Paris, London, and Yonkers  213
5. Black Matters of Value: Erasure, Overlay, Manipulation, or Archiving the Invisible House  295
Notes  317
Bibliography  351
Index  377
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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