I bought this book because I had previously read - and very much loved - "Giovanni's room". It's not been easy at the beginning to enter into this one. Baldwin just places you in the middle of a story or, better, in the middle of a life, in this case Rufus' life, a coloured young musician who wanders New York's streets after something very terrible happened to him (and we don't know, of course, what). But then it comes the moment you realize it's not a story you're reading about, not a plot in the conventional sense of the term; you don't have to look for something to happen, but just for life, feelings, and relationships between people. In this case all made the more complex by the fact that these people belong to two different "countries", the black one and the white one. But that's not the only problematic issue faced by Baldwin in the novel, and that's the reason why so many readers had been so shocked by it. If the borders between the white country and the black one are very confused, very difficult to define, the same happens with love borders, which keep moving in very unpredictable directions.
There's a lot of humanity in this book, in the broadest sense of the word. It's difficult to remain detached, because Baldwin has a very powerful way of speaking to "you" just when he seems to write about things so distant from you and your world. And he does it in a very painful way too.