Native Son

By Richard Wright,

Book cover of Native Son

Book description

Reissued to mark the 80th anniversary of Native Son's publication - discover Richard Wright's brutal and gripping masterpiece this black history month.

'[Native Son] possesses an artistry, penetration of thought, and sheer emotional power that places it into the front rank of American fiction' Ralph Ellison

Reckless, angry and adrift,…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Native Son as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Unless your first reading has been spoiled by a movie or CliffsNotes, I don’t believe you can fail to be stunned by Wright’s 1940 eons-ahead-of-its-time pièce de résistance. While much has been written addressing racial bias in the courtroom (that is, if the defendant survives the initial encounter with police), the author took the outlandish step of providing head-spinning complexity: presenting a culpable protagonist, albeit one whose crime against an affluent young white woman came about unwittingly, having everything to do with his knowledge that he, a Black man, would invariably be perceived as guilty. Wright never lets us…

I was profoundly shaken when I first read this book, and it still has the power to induce a shudder in me. A landmark work of African-American literature, this book depicts with brutal clarity the devastating effects of white racism on the psyches of young Black men. Its protagonist – one of the most unsettling characters in twentieth-century fiction – is a sullen, fearful, twenty-year-old slum dweller named Bigger Thomas, whose suppressed rage and culturally bred self-hatred explode into appalling acts of violence. Hired as a chauffeur by a wealthy white family proud of its enlightened racial attitudes, he ends…

From Harold's list on inspired by true crimes.

Native Son is a classic. You should read it because it’s a great work – full stop. But when you do, consider that it’s also an example of what writers were able to accomplish thanks to the support of the WPA. Wright developed his talent by writing portions of his first book while at work in the Chicago FWP office. And after Wright moved to New York and began working on Native Son, Margaret Walker (his friend, and a project employee) mailed him newspaper clippings that he used as source material. Wright borrowed the title for Native Son from Nelson…

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