Jesmyn Ward has assembled a collection as vital to living in our times as Coates’s letter and Rankine’s poem ... To read The Fire This Time is to feel what it is like to live through a terrible resurgence of our central never-dormant idea about race. Namely, that a black or brown life is of less value than a white one ... an extraordinary anthology.
...[a] wise and wide-ranging chorus of voices ... Perhaps what The Fire This Time does best is to affirm the power of literature and its capacity for reflection and imagination ... This is a book that seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward.
...a stirring anthology that takes more cues from Baldwin than just its title ... the joy and pain of existing while black is what’s celebrated here. That is to the credit of Ward, and the writers (like Edwidge Danticat, Kiese Laymon and Isabel Wilkerson) whose works she arranges in this volume ... The pain of black life (and death) often inspires flowery verse, but every poem and essay in Ward’s volume remains grounded in a harsh reality that our nation, at large, refuses fully to confront.