Richard Wright

The Man Who Lived Underground
  • The Man Who Lived Underground



    Fred Daniels, a black man, is picked up randomly by the police after a brutal murder in a Chicago neighbourhood and taken to the local precinct where he is tortured until he confesses to a crime he didn't commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from the precinct and takes up residence in the sewers below the streets of Chicago.

    This is the simple, horrible premise of Richard Wright's scorching novel, The Man Who Lived Underground, a masterpiece written in the same period as his landmark books Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945) that he was unable to publish in his lifetime.

    Now, for the first time, 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 full, in the form that he intended.

Richard Wright was born near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1908, to a sharecropping family of ex-slaves. His mother was a schoolteacher but, abandoned by her husband, she had to resort to menial jobs to feed her two sons before suffering a series of strokes. During a childhood scarred by hunger, Wright lived in Memphis, Tennessee, then in an orphanage, and with various relatives. He left home at fifteen, returned to Memphis for two years to work, and in 1934 went to Chicago where he was employed at the Post Office before beginning work at the Federal Writers' Project in 1935. He published Uncle Tom's Children in 1938 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship the following year. His other books include Native Son (1940), his autobiography, Black Boy (1945), and The Outsider (1953). After the war, Richard Wright chose expatriation and went to live in Paris with his family, remaining there until his death in 1960.

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