James Baldwin is one of the most brilliant of American writers because of his ability to describe how people REALLY feel when in a situation that at first seems commonplace, ordinary. No one can describe emotions with the raw honesty that Baldwin does.
He writes exactly what one thinks in a certain tense moment, say, or when interacting with people one loves and sometimes hate. The contradictions in human relations and interactions are described so accurately and poignantly you almost feel as if he saw you naked. You blush with the truth of it and thank God there's someone who can put these things to paper.
His description of race relations is essential reading for anyone in theis country of ours; a country built by slave labor and still suffering the effects of institutional racism.