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Native Son, Richard Wright by Richard Wright

Native Son, Richard Wright (original 1940; edition 1966)

by Richard Wright, Richard Wright (Preface), ILLUSTRATED BY MARGARET ELY WEBB (Illustrator), REILLY (Introduction)

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5,41261802 (3.93)262
Title:Native Son, Richard Wright
Authors:Richard Wright
Other authors:Richard Wright (Preface), ILLUSTRATED BY MARGARET ELY WEBB (Illustrator), REILLY (Introduction)
Info:A PERENNIAL CLASSIC, HARPER & ROW (1966), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Read in 2009
Tags:READ >2011

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Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)


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Very dark and powerful novel often considered the top Black protest novel of the 20th century. It is a tragedy of epic proportions that in the process makes a very strong case for continued enslavement and oppression of Blacks by the White majority. Bigger, the main character, is an aimless and angry young man who gradually sinks deeper into crime after accidentally killing a White girl. Had Black/White relations been different, he would likely have never killed her. he story's pace quickens after the murder, as Bigger tries to keep from being blamed for the murder. The climax of the book comes in the courtroom, where he is being tried for his crimes. His attorney, a Jewish member of the Communist Part, in a prolonged defense statement lays out the whole reason that society produced a person like Bigger, and many other angry, violent Black men like him. A powerful and disturbing story. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
This was a really rewarding read, which I hadn't expected given that it was assigned in as part of a rather lacklustre course. It's not short, but it's so compelling and it read so quick. The violence is horrifying, and there's a misogyny to it that is very disturbing and not totally acknowledged by Wright, though in other places he's so adept at pointing directly to the racial, sexual, and gender hypocrisies of his America. The fact that Bigger Thomas so embodies the black male murderer/rapist that white Americans feared (arguably still fear), the fact that he's really unpardonable, threw me initially, but Wright's essay clarifies why this was important for him to do. This is one of the few novels I've come across in my courses that I would more generally recommend to people, because it's pace and suspenseful plot are in keeping with contemporary crime fiction but it's also psychologically compelling. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
I sat stunned when I completed this book wondering how I come to read it so late. Undeniable greatness. The entrapment of 1930s Chicago made read in the life of Bigger Thomas. ( )
  FoxTribeMama | Oct 2, 2016 |
Many times throughout this book I felt like not finishing, yet I continued on and it would catch my interest again. This was not a boring book in the least, but the topic was difficult and disheartening. Wright did a great job with his points, however, because I did not like how the book ended, which will make sense when you read the book. While this isn't a book I heartily recommend and not one I'm keeping on my bookshelves, I see it's value on the list of books every one should read at least once. It's amazingly written with poignant and important thoughts, bringing to the forefront of the reader's mind some incredible ideas of accountability and lives intertwined. ( )
  MahanaU | Feb 26, 2016 |
I really thought this was interesting and very well written! The subject matter seems disturbing, yet it was done in such a realistic (and not horrific) manner. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wright, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fisher, Dorothy CanfieldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olzon, GöstaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rampersad, ArnoldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reilly, JohnAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solotaroff, TheodoreAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Oggi ancora il mio lamento è ribellione, la mia piaga è piu' grave dei miei sospiri" Libro di Giobbe, 22,3
Even today is my complaint rebellious,
My stroke is heavier than my groaning.
A mia madre- che, quando ero bimbo alle sue ginocchia, m'insegno' l'ammirazione e il rispetto delle cose e degli uomini immaginosi e fantastici.
My Mother
who, when I was a child at her knee, taught me to revere the fanciful and imaginative
First words
Brrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinng! An alarm clock clanged in the dark and silent room.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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AR 6.1, 24 Pts
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006083756X, Paperback)

Bigger Thomas is doomed, trapped in a downward spiral that will lead to arrest, prison, or death, driven by despair, frustration, poverty, and incomprehension. As a young black man in the Chicago of the '30s, he has no way out of the walls of poverty and racism that surround him, and after he murders a young white woman in a moment of panic, these walls begin to close in. There is no help for him--not from his hapless family; not from liberal do-gooders or from his well-meaning yet naive friend Jan; certainly not from the police, prosecutors, or judges. Bigger is debased, aggressive, dangerous, and a violent criminal. As such, he has no claim upon our compassion or sympathy. And yet...

A more compelling story than Native Son has not been written in the 20th century by an American writer. That is not to say that Richard Wright created a novel free of flaws, but that he wrote the first novel that successfully told the most painful and unvarnished truth about American social and class relations. As Irving Howe asserted in 1963, "The day Native Son appeared, American culture was changed forever. It made impossible a repetition of the old lies [and] brought out into the open, as no one ever had before, the hatred, fear and violence that have crippled and may yet destroy our culture."

Other books had focused on the experience of growing up black in America--including Wright's own highly successful Uncle Tom's Children, a collection of five stories that focused on the victimization of blacks who transgressed the code of racial segregation. But they suffered from what he saw as a kind of lyrical idealism, setting up sympathetic black characters in oppressive situations and evoking the reader's pity. In Native Son, Wright was aiming at something more. In Bigger, he created a character so damaged by racism and poverty, with dreams so perverted, and with human sensibilities so eroded, that he has no claim on the reader's compassion:

"I didn't want to kill," Bigger shouted. "But what I killed for, I am! It must've been pretty deep in me to make me kill! I must have felt it awful hard to murder.... What I killed for must've been good!" Bigger's voice was full of frenzied anguish. "It must have been good! When a man kills, it's for something... I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for 'em. It's the truth..."
Wright's genius was that, in preventing us from feeling pity for Bigger, he forced us to confront the hopelessness, misery, and injustice of the society that gave birth to him. --Andrew Himes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:00 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Trapped in the poverty-stricken ghetto of Chicago's South Side, a young African-American man finds release only in acts of violence.

(summary from another edition)

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