Native Son

Native Son


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, Bigger Thomas has grown up trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago. But a job with the affluent Dalton family provides the setting for a catastrophic collision between his world and theirs. Hunted by citizen and police alike, and baited by prejudiced officials, Bigger finds himself the cause célèbre in an ever-narrowing endgame.

First published in 1940, Native Son shocked readers with its candid depiction of violence and confrontation of racial stereotypes. It went on to make Richard Wright the first bestselling black writer in America.

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


About the author

Richard Wright

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.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more