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Next Up: Native Son

I’m eager to dive into Native Son, as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

Written by Richard Wright, the novel is widely regarded as the preeminent African-American work of fiction in the 20th century.

Native Son is referred to as a protest novel—one that intends to highlight the social injustice and racial inequality in America in the 1930s. The book tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a poor African-American in the Chicago ghetto who accidentally kills a white woman.

A few facts about the novel and Richard Wright:

  • Published in 1940, Native Son was an immediate success, selling 250,000 copies in its first three weeks.
  • With Native Son, Richard Wright became the first African-American author to be published by the Book of the Month club in March 1940.
  • Part of the novel was based upon the story of Robert Nixon, an African-American serial killer who was executed in 1939.
  • Wright has been called “the Father of Black American Literature.”
  • In addition to Native Son, Wright is also well-known for Black Boy and Uncle Tom’s Children.
  • The novel has no shortage of cultural references—appearing in a Lemony Snicket book (The Penultimate Peril), a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, a U2 song, the HBO series Brave New Voices, and the 2011 hit film, The Help.
  • Wright passed away in 1960, at the age 52, after a bout with dysentery.

So I’ve got to say that this novel, on the surface, appears fascinating. I’m really excited about reading it, and even more excited after I learned a little more about Wright and how highly regarded he is as an author.

Who’s read or wants to read Native Son? Thoughts?

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matt #

    Never read it but I have heard it’s a great book. Eager to hear your thoughts.


    February 9, 2012
  2. Haven’t read this but did read Wright’s short story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man.” Interestingly, it also features an accidental killing, this time of a mule, but the story is more about desires and unintended/unanticipated consequences. I wonder if that’s going to be a theme here, too. Wright’s an excellent writer. I think you’re going to enjoy and appreciate this one.


    February 9, 2012
  3. This and Wright’s BLACK BOY are so good. I can’t wait to hear what you think.


    February 9, 2012
  4. Lori #

    I read Native Son and put that in my top 10. It is a fabulous look and perspective of racial tensions in the 30’s and beyond – certainly still relevant today. You will fall in love with the character Bigger.


    February 9, 2012
    • I hope things change. I love the book, but not a fan of Bigger at this point. The gruesome nature of his crime was tough to read.


      February 9, 2012
  5. Siuon #

    Together with Invisible Man, I regard Native Son as the greatest African American literature.


    February 9, 2012
  6. Any novel that highlights injustices towards the minorities should be read so that we become a much more humane society.

    Abdullah Ahmad.


    February 9, 2012
  7. This book is tough to handle. And the last 1/3 of it is terrible–essentially all communist propaganda.


    February 10, 2012
  8. Reblogged this on boundforbooks.


    February 27, 2012

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