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was first published in 1962. The novel is set in Greenwich Village in the late 1950s. It portrays themes that were taboo at the time of its release including bisexuality, interracial couples and extramarital affairs.
The story begins with the downfall of jazz drummer Rufus Scott who begins a relationship with Leona, a white woman from the South and introduces her to his social circle. Although the relationship is initially frivolous, it turns more serious as they continue to live together. Rufus becomes habitually physically abusive of Leona and she is eventually admitted to a mental hospital. Rufus returns to Harlem in a deep depression and commits suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
The book goes on to explore the relationships between Rufus's friends and family: Eric, Vivaldo, Richard, his wife Cass and Rufus's sister Ida. In the wake of Rufus' suicide they share feelings of guilt and bewilderment. Vivaldo begins a relationship with Ida, which is strained by racial tension and Ida's bitterness after her brother's death. Eric, an actor and Rufus's first male lover, returns to New York after years living in France. Ida starts having an affair with Ellis, an advertising executive who promises to help with her career as a singer. Cass, who has become lonely due to Richard's writing career, has an affair with Eric after he arrives in New York. At the novel's climax, Cass tells Richard about her affair with Eric, Eric and Vivaldo have a sexual encounter, and Vivaldo learns about Ida's relationship with Ellis.
The book's third-person narrator is close to the characters' emotions.
James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His essays, as collected in "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), explore racial, sexual, and class distinctions. Some of Baldwin's essays are book-length, for instance The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976). Baldwin's novels and plays fictionalize personal dilemmas and inner obstacles amid social and psychological pressures.