Thursday, December 13, 2007


WRIGHT, RICHARD Considered by many literary critics as one of the best twentieth century American novelists, white or black, Richard Wright (1908-1960) poignantly described the brutal and dehumanizing nature of Chicago's black ghetto in his Native Son (1940), which is generally considered his best work. His first book, a collection of short stories entitled Uncle Tom's Children, was published two years earlier and was in part based on Wright's childhood experiences as the son of a victimized Mississippi sharecropper. The success of Uncle Tom's Children brought Wright instant recognition as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship which enabled him to complete Native Son. Later adapted for the stage, Native Son was the first novel by an African American selected for the Book-of-the-Month Club and for a Modern Library edition. Subsequent books by Wright include Twelve Million Black Voices (1941) and Black Boy (1945), which was in large part autobiographical in nature.

In 1947, Wright left the United States and moved to Paris. Remaining abroad for the rest of his life, he continued to write fiction as well as nonfiction. Among his later works are the novels The Outsider (1953) and The Long Dream (1958) and four nonfiction books, Black Power (1954), The Color Curtain (1956), Pagan Spain (1957) and White Man, Listen! (1957). Three of Wright's books were published posthumously: a collection of short stories, Eight Men (1961), and two novels, Lawd Today (1963) and Savage Holiday (1965).

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