The man who lived underground : a novel

by Wright, Richard, 1908-1960,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 20 Libraries 21 of 26 copies
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Summary
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

ONE OF TIME'S 100 MUST-READ BOOKS OF 2021

ONE OF OPRAH'S 15 FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021

ONE OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF 2021

A major literary event: an explosive, previously unpublished novel about race and police violence by the legendary author of Native Son and Black Boy

Fred Daniels, a Black man, is picked up by the police after a brutal double murder and tortured until he confesses to a crime he did not commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from custody and flees into the city's sewer system.

This is the devastating premise of this scorching novel, a masterpiece that Richard Wright was unable to publish in his lifetime. Written between his landmark books Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945), at the height of his creative powers, it would eventually see publication only in drastically condensed and truncated form in the posthumous collection Eight Men (1961).

Now, for the first time, by special arrangement with the author's estate, the full text of this incendiary novel about race and violence in America, the work that meant more to Wright than any other ("I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration"), is published in the form that he intended, complete with his companion essay, "Memories of My Grandmother." Malcolm Wright, the author's grandson, contributes an afterword.
Contents
The man who lived underground
Memories of my grandmother.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "It's a fine summer evening; Fred Daniels has just gotten paid; and he's happily heading home to his pregnant wife. But Fred is Black, the cops in the squad car are white; they take him to the station and torture him into confessing to a double murder he knows nothing about. Fred manages to escape down a manhole into the sewer system, where he embarks on a feverish underworld quest, experiencing a wave of epiphanies as he burrows into a Black church, a movie theater, a jewelry shop, an insurance office, and an undertaker, each granting him startling new perceptions of the shackles of racism. Alone in the dark fending for himself, Fred revels in his strange freedom and "high pitch of consciousness," feeling that he is an "invisible man." Wright wrote this mythic, crescendo odyssey, this molten tragedy of tyranny and the destruction of a life, at the start of WWII, 10 years before Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man appeared. But despite the resounding success of Native Son, Wright's publisher rejected this lacerating tale. Now, finally, this devastating inquiry into oppression and delusion, this timeless tour de force, emerges in full, the work Wright was most passionate about, as he explains in the profoundly illuminating essay, "Memories of My Grandmother," also published here for the first time. This blazing literary meteor should land in every collection."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The power and pain of Wright's writing are evident in this wrenching novel, which was rejected by his publisher in 1942, shortly after the release of Native Son. Fred Daniels, a Black man who lives in an unidentified American city, is on his way home after a hard day's work for the Wootens, a well-to-do white couple. Before he can reunite with his pregnant wife, Rachel, Daniels is unjustly seized by three white cops for the murder of the Wootens' next-door neighbors. After he's beaten, Daniels signs a confession, naively hoping that doing so will enable him to see Rachel. The cops take him to see her ("No one can say we mistreated him if we let 'im see his old lady, hunh?" one says), and she goes into labor, necessitating a rush to the hospital, which provides an opportunity for Daniels to escape. From that point forward, Daniels hides out in the sewers. Wright makes the impact of racist policing palpable as the story builds to a gut-punch ending, and the inclusion of his essay "Memories of My Grandmother" illuminates his inspiration for the book. This nightmarish tale of racist terror resonates. (Apr.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects African American men -- Fiction.
False arrest -- Fiction.
Psychological torture -- Fiction.
Police misconduct -- Fiction.
Racism -- Fiction.
Race relations -- Fiction.
Dwellings -- Fiction.
Sewerage -- Fiction.
American essays.
Publisher New York, N.Y. :2021
Other Titles Memories of my grandmother.
Language English
Notes "A Library of America special publication."
Includes the companion essay, Memories of my grandmother.
Description xii, 228 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 9781598536768
1598536761
Other Classic View