Books

Injustice

Richard Wright

VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS.

How to go on in a world where everything is set against you? With hope? In fear? Or, in violent struggle? In this gripping and disturbing book, Richard Wright weaves his own childhood recollections with those of Bigger Thomas - a young black man trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago, and unwittingly involved in a wealthy woman's death - to paint a portrait of insurmountable oppression. Through the strange pride Bigger takes in his crime, Wright brings us to confront the systems of justice we blindly assume are always on our side.

Selected from the books Black Boy and Native Son by Richard Wright

Native Son

Richard Wright (and others)

'The most important and celebrated novel of Negro life to have appeared in America' - James Baldwin

Gripping and furious, Native Son follows Bigger Thomas, a young black man who is trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago. Unwittingly involved in a wealthy woman's death, he is hunted relentlessly, baited by prejudiced officials, charged with murder and driven to acknowledge a strange pride in his crime. Native Son shocked readers on its first publication in 1940 and went on to make Richard Wright the first bestselling black writer in America.

Black Boy

Richard Wright

'In Black Boy I found expressed, for the first time in my life, the sorrow, the rage, and the murderous bitterness which was eating up my life and lives of those around me. [Richard Wright's] work was an immense liberation and revelation for me. He became my ally and my witness, and alas! my father' - James Baldwin

At four years of age, Richard Wright set fire to his home; at five his father deserted the family; by six Richard was - ­ temporarily - an alcoholic. Moved from home to home, from brick tenement to orphanage, he had had, by the age of twelve, only one year's formal education. It was in saloons, railroad yards and streets that he learned the facts about life under white subjection, about fear, hunger and hatred. Gradually he learned to play Jim Crow in order to survive in a world of white hostility, secretly satisfying his craving for books and knowledge until the time came when he could follow his dream of justice and opportunity in the north.

Biography

Richard Wright was born near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1908. As a child he lived in Memphis, Tennessee, then in an orphanage, and with various relatives. He left home at fifteen and returned to Memphis for two years to work, and in 1934 went to Chicago, where in 1935 he began to work on the Federal Writers' Project. He published Uncle Tom's Children in 1938 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the following year. His other titles include his autobiography, Black Boy (1945), and The Outsider (1953). After the war Richard Wright went to live in Paris with his wife and daughters, remaining there until his death in 1960.