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Native son and How "Bigger" was born /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: HarperPerennial, 1993
Edition: First HarperPerennial edition.
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SUMMARY

Widely acclaimed as one of the finest books ever written on race and class divisions in America, this powerful novel reflects the forces of poverty, injustice, and hopelessness that continue to shape out society. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Richard WrightJohn Reilly
Introduction: How "Bigger" Was Bornp. vii
Book 1p. 7
Book 2p. 93
Book 3p. 254
Afterwordp. 393
Selected Bibliographyp. 397


Review by Booklist Review

Bigger Thomas, of the Chicago slums, is a criminal but, larger, a victim of the white world. This lasting novel was the first to deal on a large-scale, graphic basis with the abysmal conditions of ghetto life, paving the way for others to write similarly, truthfully, about life and still see their work published.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Starred Review. Wright's classic 1940 novel about a young African-American man who murders a white woman in 1930s Chicago is a truly remarkable literary accomplishment. Peter Francis James has never been better, bringing the character of Bigger Thomas to life in a profound and moving performance that is as touching as it is truthful. James's powerful baritone demands to be heard, captivating listeners with Wright's realistic portrayal of life in the inner city, capturing the mood of each and every scene. With moderate yet believable variations in tone and dialect for each of the characters, James ignites the collective imagination of his audience. Wright's novel is real, raw and brutally honest and James's reading follows suit. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

After 58 years in print, Wright's Native Son has acquired classic status. It has not, however, lost its power to shock or provoke controversy. Bigger Thomas is a young black man in 1940s Chicago who accidentally kills the daughter of his wealthy white employer. He tries to frame the young woman's fianc‚ for the crime and attempts to extort ransom from the victim's family, but his guilt is discovered, and he is forced into hiding. After a terrifying manhunt, he is arrested and brought to trial. Though his fate is certain, he finds that his crimes have given meaning and energy to his previously aimless life, and he goes to his execution unrepentant. Wright avoids the trap of making his hero a martyr, for Bigger is a vicious and violent bully. But out of this tale the author develops a profoundly disturbing image of racism and its results that puts Bigger's experience in horrifying perspective. The unabridged recording includes material edited out of the original edition (Audio Reviews, LJ 10/15/98), including one major scene and some significant dialog. Peter Francis James's narration is thoughtful and polished but lacks intensity. When the text clearly demands an outburst of emotion, James repeatedly holds back, allowing the book's climaxes to drag by unrecognized. This recording will stand well until a better version appears. Recommended for all public libraries; librarians should be aware of extremely violent language and situations.ÄJohn Owen, Advanced Micro Devices Lib., Santa Clara, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
AUTHOR NOTES

Richard Wright was generally thought of as one of the most gifted contemporary African American writers until the rise of James Baldwin. "With Wright, the pain of being a Negro is basically economic---its sight is mainly in the pocket. With Baldwin, the pain suffuses the whole man. . . . If Baldwin's sights are higher than Wright's, it is in part because Wright helped to raise them" (Time). Wright was born on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper. At the age of 15, he started to work in Memphis, then in Chicago, then "bummed all over the country," supporting himself by various odd jobs. His early writing was in the smaller magazines---first poetry, then prose. He won Story Story's $500 prize---for the best story written by a worker on the Writer's Project---with "Uncle Tom's Children" in 1938, his first important publication. He wrote Native Son (1940) in eight months, and it made his reputation. Based in part on the actual case of a young black murderer of a white woman, it was one of the first of the African American protest novels, violent and shocking in its scenes of cruelty, hunger, rape, murder, flight, and prison.

Black Boy (1945) is the simple, vivid, and poignant story of Wright's early years in the South. It appeared at the beginning of a new postwar awareness of the evils of racial prejudice and did much to call attention to the plight of the African American. The Outsider (1953) is a novel based on Wright's own experience as a member of the Communist party, an affiliation he terminated in 1944. He remained politically inactive thereafter and from 1946 until his death made his principal residence in Paris. His nonfiction writings on problems of his race include Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos (1954), about a visit to the Gold Coast, White Man, Listen (1957), and Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States.

(Bowker Author Biography) Richard Wright was born on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi. His father left the family when Wright was only five years old, and he was raised first by his mother and then by a series of relatives. What little schooling he had ended with his graduation from ninth grade in Memphis, Tennessee. At age 15, he started to work in Memphis, and later worked in Chicago before traveling across the country supporting himself with odd jobs.

When Wright finally returned to Chicago, he got a job with the federal Writer's Project, a government-supported arts program. He was quite successful, winning a $500 prize from a magazine for the best fiction written by a participant in that program. In Chicago, he was also introduced to leftist politics and became a member of the Communist Party. In 1937, Wright left Chicago for New York, where he became Harlem editor for the Communist national newspaper, The Daily Worker, and where he met future novelist, Ralph Ellison.

Wright became a celebrated author with the publication of Native Son (1940), a novel he wrote in only eight months. Based on the actual case of a young black murderer of a white woman, it was one of the first of the modern black protest novels, violent and shocking in its sense of cruelty, hunger, rape, murder, flight, and prison. This novel brought Wright both fame and financial security. He followed it with his autobiography, Black Boy (1945), which was also successful. In 1942, Wright and his wife broke with the Communist Party, and in 1947, they moved to France, where Wright lived the rest of his life. His novel The Outsider (1953) is based on his experiences as a member of the Communist Party.

Wright is regarded as a major modern American writer, one of the first black writers to reach a large white audience, and thereby raise the level of national awareness of the continuing problem of racism in America. In many respects Wright paved the way for all black writers who followed him.

(Bowker Author Biography)


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