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Native Son (1940)

by Richard Wright

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,010871,097 (3.93)320
Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's novel is just as powerful today as when it was written -- in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America.… (more)
1940s (21)
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» See also 320 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
An excellent novel, and important novel, an astonishingly relevant novel. Also maybe the bleakest thing I've ever read. ( )
  jdegagne | Apr 23, 2022 |
The writing in this book was inconsistent, but the good writing was excellent. Wright presented a very negative protagonist in a way that I was able to feel deeply for him. I also learned so much about the personal results of constant oppression and treating people in an other, degrading manner. ( )
  suesbooks | Nov 12, 2021 |
Plot is interesting and the concepts the author reveals are interesting, but the writing is a bit over the top for me. ( )
  addunn3 | Oct 4, 2021 |
This, the first novel about the black community by the black community in the US, was a page-turner as relevant now as when it was written during WW2. It’s incredible actually, given recent events, that despite a book like this being written, published and widely-known, little seems to have changed for the community whose cries it voices.

The tale of Bigger Thomas and his inexorable plunge into despair is not one you will forget easily. Despite some flaws in the telling which Wright readily admits in his introduction, the events unfold with a clarity that allows you to see the full weight of society stacked against the black community of Chicago.

By keeping the narrative firmly in Bigger’s head, Wright conveys exactly why the oppressed might perceive even acts of kindness as threats. And Wright knew this too well himself. As an orphan, he suffered trauma and as a foster carer, my training and experience tells that trauma can make the most inocuous behaviour of others seems threatening. Because of this, the victim can behave in ways which the untraumatised find perplexing and even self-defeating. Empathy soon trickles away to be replaced by fear… and containment.

But Wright is not simply giving expression to the impact of trauma on an individual, he’s confronting us with the horror of trauma on an entire people group. When considered in those terms, it’s not hard to see why the race issue in the US continues to be a festering sore from which it cannot seem to heal itself.

It’s an excellent book that should be more widely read. I wonder if it’s experiencing a revival in the wake of BLM. But those who read it might simply use it to scream louder and the debate is already a shouting match. Understanding the race issue in the US in terms of trauma, if it is a way forward, is going to take a lot of time, skill and understanding. I wonder if there’ll be any qualitative change by the time the 100th anniversary of Native‘s publication. I doubt it. ( )
  arukiyomi | Aug 30, 2021 |
Native Son (Modern Classics) by Richard Wright (2005)
  arosoff | Jul 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wright, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fisher, Dorothy CanfieldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olzon, GöstaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pellizzi, CamilloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Phillips, CarylIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rampersad, ArnoldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reilly, JohnAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solotaroff, TheodoreAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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.
—Job
Dedication
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.
TO
My Mother
who, when I was a child at her knee, taught me to revere the fanciful and imaginative
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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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Wikipedia in English (4)

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's novel is just as powerful today as when it was written -- in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America.

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AR 6.1, 24 Pts
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