... keen and meditative reflections ... Most compelling is McLarin's elaboration on the fundamental importance of Black sisterhood ... McLarin seamlessly traverses the boundaries of literary criticism, personal essay and cultural critique. The book's six-part structure--divided into thematic clusters such as 'Men' and 'Women,' but which overlap--provides some loose organization but allows McLarin to slip between modes in her analysis and make meaningful connections between the book, her lived experience and the contemporary state of the world. Meanwhile, her narrative voice maintains a conversational intimacy with her readers while never letting them completely off the hook. McLarin challenges her readers to look closer, consider for longer and speak more candidly as she herself does in both lauding Baldwin and elaborating on his blind spots.
This brief book does much to remind us of the ways that literature lasts. The back and forth between an author, a text and its reader is, or should be, an ongoing one. And Kim McLarin’s bookmarked discussion of the enduring resonance of Another Country—though she does not include or date it in her list of 'Works Cited'—is one writer’s testimonial to how the language lives. The 'obligation beyond herself' is indeed a vital lesson, and one she both teaches and learns.
McLarin expands on her previous essay collection, Womanish, to once again offer cogent insights about identity, racism, sex and sexuality, family and education, reading and writing, and the 'Black, Pentecostal, one-parent, southern existence' from which she emerged ... Throughout, Baldwin’s novel—as well as his interviews and other writings—serves her well as she pays attention to themes that roil her life ... Lucid, candid reflections on Black identity.
... [a] discerning work of criticism ... McLarin is both generous and critical of Baldwin, acknowledging the undercurrents of misogyny in his writing, and is an astute and sensitive reader. Her introspective study is filled with insight about interracial love, 'the fantasies' of American masculinity, and the importance of Black sisterhood. Baldwin fans will be delighted by this fresh take.