English Professor’s Book Provides New Understanding of James Baldwin’s Work

Book Cover for James Baldwin and the Heavenly City

Dr. Christopher Z. Hobson, professor of English at SUNY Old Westbury, recently authored “James Baldwin and the Heavenly City: Prophecy, Apocalypse, and Doubt,” which provides new interpretations on the works of the famous American novelist and social critic. Hobson’s book focuses on Baldwin's six novels, as well as on selected essays, drama, and short stories. 

According to the publisher, the Michigan State University Press, Hobson’s 258-page study “shows that Baldwin’s novels use biblical ideas in partly but not fully secularized ways to express the possible human attainment of a new life embodying a real but undefinable holiness. The book shows Baldwin’s method of recasting biblical and African American prophetic traditions to reveal their liberating core.”

Hobson’s book – his sixth – provides new readings of Baldwin’s novels, reassesses his once-neglected later fiction, and shows Gospel music’s centrality in his fictional imagination. It is available for purchase online and through the publisher.

A professor at Old Westbury for more than 20 years, Hobson is currently a resident of New York City, and teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses including U.S. literature, major authors, and senior capstone seminars.

The English Department is hosting a book party and author talk featuring Hobson on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 1 p.m. in NAB 1100.