James Baldwin first wrote about homosexuality in his famous early novel, Giovanni's Room. Here he brings homosexuality and race together in the story of the great gospel singer Arthur Montana. Arthur was found dead in the basement of a London pub at the age of thirty-nine, yet he lies on in this memoir. Written by Hall, his brother and manager, it is in part a subtle and moving study of the treacherous ebb and flow of memory. Set against a vividly drawn background of the civil rights movement of the sixties, Just Above My Head explores how Arthur discovers his love for Jimmy - 'with his smile like a lantern and a voice like Saturday nights' - and portrays how profoundly racial politics can shape the private business of love.
Born in Harlem in 1924, Baldwin had an early career as a teenage preacher. He lived in Paris from 1948-1956 and his first novels, the autobiographical GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN and GIOVANNI'S ROOM established him as a promising novelist and anticipated some of the themes of his later works, such as racism and sexuality. He became a prominent spokesperson for racial equality, especially during the civil rights movement. He lived in France during his last years. Baldwin died in 1987.