(Aka Richard Nathaniel Wright)
[September 4, 1908 – November 28, 1960]
White Man, Listen! (1957)
Mr. Wright has much of merit to say about
psychology of the world's darker peoples. Awareness of this psychology on
the part of Western diplomats and newspapermen should make for the
reporting of less nonsense than has been true in the past. Recommended for
public, college and university.
A Father's Law (2008)
Never before published, the final work of one of America's
A Father's Law is the novel Richard Wright, acclaimed author of
Black Boy and Native Son, never completed. Written during a six-week
period near the end of his life, it appears in print for the first time,
an important addition to this American master's body of work, submitted by
his daughter and literary executor, Julia, who writes:
It comes from his guts and ends at the hero's "breaking point." It
explores many themes favored by my father like guilt and innocence, the
difficult relationship between the generations, the difficulty of being a
black policeman and father, the difficulty of being both those things and
suspecting that your own son is the murderer. It intertwines astonishingly
modern themes for a novel written in 1960.
Prescient, raw, powerful, and fascinating, A Father's Law is the final
gift from a literary giant.
Rite of Passage (1994) with David
Fifteen-year-old Johnny Gibbs does, well in school,
respects his teachers, and loves his family. Then suddenly, with a few
short words, his idyllic life is shattered. He learns that the family he
has loved all his life is not his own, but a
family. And now he is being sent to live with
Shocked by the news, Johnny does the only thing he can think of: he runs.
Leaving his childhood behind forever, Johnny takes to the streets where he
learns about living life--the hard way.
Richard Wright, internationally acclaimed author of Black Boy and
Native Son, gives us a coming-of-age story as compelling today as
when it was first written, over fifty years ago.
Lawd Today! (1963)
A novel of Depression-era Chicago.
Eight Men: Short Stories
Here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright
takes readers into this landscape once again.
Each of the eight stories in Eight Men focuses on a black man at
violent odds with a white world, reflecting Wright's views about racism in
our society and his fascination with what he called "the struggle of the
individual in America." These poignant, gripping stories will
captivate all those who loved Black Boy and Native Son.
The Long Dream (1958)
Set in a small town in Mississippi, The Long Dream
is a novel rich in characterization and plot that dramatizes Richard
Wright's themes of oppression, exploitation, corruption, and flight. It is
the story of Fishbelly (called Fish), the son of Tyree Tucker, a prominent
black mortician and owner of a brothel whose wealth and power were
attained by forging business arrangements with corrupt white police
officers and politicians. The riveting narrative centers on the explosive
and tragic events that shape and alter the relationship between Fish and
Savage Holiday (1954)
The Outsider (1953)
Wright presents a compelling story of a black man's
attempt to escape his past and start anew in Harlem. Cross Damon is a man
at odds with society and with himself, a man who hungers for peace but who
brings terror and destruction wherever he goes.
As Maryemma Graham writes in her Introduction to this edition, with its
restored text established by the Library of America, "The Outsider
is Richard Wright's second installment in a story of epic proportions, a
complex master narrative designed to show American racism in raw and ugly
terms ... The stories of Bigger Thomas ... and Cross Damon bear an uncanny
resemblance to many contemporary cases of street crime and violence. There
is also a prophetic note in Wright's construction of the criminal mind as
intelligent, introspective, and transformative."
Native Son (1940)
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, Wright's powerful
novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of
hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and
of what it means to be black in America.
Uncle Tom's Children (1938)
Set in the American Deep South, each of the powerful
novellas collected here concerns an aspect of the lives of black people in
the postslavery era, exploring their resistance to white racism and
oppression. Published in 1938, this was the first book from Wright, who
would continue on to worldwide fame as the author of the novels Native
Son and Black Boy.
American Hunger (1977)
Letters to Joe C. Brown (1968)
Pagan Spain (1957)
A master chronicler of the African-American
experience, Richard Wright brilliantly expanded his literary horizons with
Pagan Spain, originally published in 1957. The Spain he visited in
the mid-twentieth century was not the romantic locale of song and story,
but a place of tragic beauty and dangerous contradictions. The portrait he
offers is a blistering, powerful, yet scrupulously honest depiction of a
land and people in turmoil, caught in the strangling dual grip of cruel
dictatorship and what Wright saw as an undercurrent of primitive faith. An
amalgam of expert travel reportage, dramatic monologue, and arresting
sociological critique, Pagan Spain serves as a pointed and
still-relevant commentary on the grave human dangers of oppression and
The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference (1956)
Black Power: Three Books from Exile (1954)
Originally published in 1954, Richard Wright's
Black Power is an extraordinary nonfiction work by one of America's
premier literary giants of the twentieth century. An impassioned chronicle
of the author's trip to Africa's Gold Coast before it became the free
nation of Ghana, it speaks eloquently of empowerment and possibility, and
resonates loudly to this day.
Also included in this omnibus edition are two nonfiction works Wright
produced around the time of Black Power. White Man, Listen!
is a stirring collection of his essays on race, politics, and other
essential social concerns . The Color Curtain is an indispensable
work urging the removal of the color barrier. It remains one of the key
commentaries on the question of race in the modern era.
Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth (1945)
Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi
amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those
around him; at six he was a "drunkard," hanging about in taverns. Surly,
brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side
by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on
the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common
Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from
innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed
confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of
social injustice and human suffering.
12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States (1941,
12 Million Black Voices, first published in
1941, combines Wright's prose with startling photographs selected by Edwin
Rosskam from the Security Farm Administration files compiled during the
Great Depression. The photographs include works by such giants as Walker
Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein. From crowded, rundown farm
shacks to Harlem storefront churches, the photos depict the lives of black
people in 1930s America—their misery and weariness under rural poverty,
their spiritual strength, and their lives in northern ghettos. Wright's
accompanying text eloquently narrates the story of these 90 pictures and
delivers a powerful commentary on the origins and history of black
oppression in this country. Also included are new prefaces by Douglas
Brinkley, Noel Ignatiev, and Michael Eric Dyson.
Native Son and How "Bigger" was Born
The story of Native Son.
Haiku: This Other World (1988), Robert L. Tener and Yoshinobu Hakatuni, eds.
Like all great writers, Richard Wright never failed to
create works of breathtaking originality, depth, and beauty. With Native
Son he gave us Bigger Thomas, still one of the most provocative and
controversial characters in fiction. With Black Boy he offered a
candid and searing depiction of racism and poverty in America. And now,
forty years after his death, he has bestowed us with one of the finest
collections of haiku in American literature.
Wright became enamored of haiku at the end of his life, and in this strict,
seventeen-syllable form he discovered another way of looking at the world.
He rendered images of nature and humanity that raised questions and revealed
strikingly fresh perspectives. The publication of this collection is not
only one of the greatest posthumous triumphs of American letters but also a
final testament to the noble spirit and enduring artistry of Richard Wright.
Richard Wright's Travel Writings: New Reflections
(2001), Virginia Whatley
Attracted to remote lands by his interest in the postcolonial
struggle, Richard Wright became one of the few African Americans of his time
to engage in travel writing. He went to emerging nations not as a sightseer
but as a student of their cultures, learning the politics and the processes
of social transformation.
When Wright fled from the United States in 1946 to live as an expatriate in
Paris, he was exposed to intellectual thoughts and challenges that
transcended his social and political education in America. Three events
broadened his world view--his introduction to French existentialism, the
rise of the Pan-Africanist movement to decolonize Africa, and Indonesia's
declaration of independence from colonial rule in 1945. During the 1950s as
he traveled to emerging nations his encounters produced four travel
narratives--Black Power (1953), The Color Curtain (1956), Pagan Spain
(1956), and White Man, Listen! (1957). Upon his death in 1960, he left
behind an unfinished book on French West Africa, which exists only in notes,
outlines, and a draft.
Written by multinational scholars, this collection of essays exploring
Wright's travel writings shows how in his hands the genre of travel writing
resisted, adapted, or modified the forms and formats practiced by white
authors. Enhanced by nine photographs taken by Wright during his travels,
the essays focus on each of Wright's four separate narratives as well as
upon his unfinished book and reveal how Wright drew on such non-Western
influences as the African American slave narrative and Asian literature of
protest and resistance. The essays critique Wright's representation of
customs and people and employ a broad range of interpretative modes,
including the theories of formalism, feminism, and postmodernism, among
Wright's travel books are proved here to be innovative narratives that laid
down the roots of such later genres as postcolonial literature, contemporary
travel writing, and resistance literature.
With selections by
Aldous Huxley, Guy De Maupassant,
Richard Wright, and
The Richard Wright Encyclopedia
(2008), Jerry W. Ward and Robert J. Butler, eds.
Richard Wright: A Biography
(2007) by Debbie Levy
The Death-Bound-Subject: Richard Wright's Archaeology of Death (2005)
by Abdul R. JanMohamed
During the 1940s, in response to the charge that his
writing was filled with violence, Richard Wright replied that the manner
came from the matter, that the “relationship of the American Negro to the
American scene [was] essentially violent,” and that he could deny neither
the violence he had witnessed nor his own existence as a product of racial
violence. Abdul R. JanMohamed provides extraordinary insight into Wright’s
position in this first study to explain the fundamental ideological and
political functions of the threat of lynching in Wright’s work and
thought. JanMohamed argues that Wright’s oeuvre is a systematic and
thorough investigation of what he calls the death-bound-subject, the
subject who is formed from infancy onward by the imminent threat of death.
He shows that with each successive work, Wright delved further into the
question of how living under a constant menace of physical violence
affected his protagonists and how they might “free” themselves by
overcoming their fear of death and redeploying death as the ground for
Drawing on psychoanalytic, Marxist, and phenomenological analyses, and on
Orlando Patterson’s notion of social death, JanMohamed develops
comprehensive, insightful, and original close readings of Wright’s major
publications: his short-story collection Uncle Tom’s Children; his
novels Native Son, The Outsider, Savage Holiday, and
The Long Dream; and his autobiography Black Boy/American Hunger.
The Death-Bound-Subject is a stunning reevaluation of the work of a
major twentieth-century American writer, but it is also much more. In
demonstrating how deeply the threat of death is involved in the formation
of black subjectivity, JanMohamed develops a methodology for understanding
the presence of the death-bound-subject in African American literature and
culture from the earliest slave narratives forward.
Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America (2003),
Susan Richard Shreve, ed.
Native Son: The Story of Richard Wright (2003) by Joyce Hart
Traces the life and achievements of the twentieth-century
African American novelist, whose early life was shaped by a strict
grandmother who had been a slave, an illiterate father, and a mother
educated as a schoolteacher.
Richard Wright's Black Boy (2003)
by Douglas Taylor and William L. Andrews
This casebook gathers together the most important critical
responses to Richard Wright's autobiography. It includes a 1945 interview
with Richard Wright, contemporary reviews of Black Boy written by W.E.B.
Du Bois, Lionel Trilling, Mary McCarthy, and Ralph Ellison, and eight
These essays address a range of topics including the circumstances of the
book's original publication in 1945; the relationship between the novel
and Wright's actual biography; the African-American autobiographical
tradition; the influences of various writers and literary movements on
Black Boy; and the impact of African-American vernacular and oral
performance on Wright's autobiography.
Black Manhood in James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines, and August Wilson (2002,
2004) by Keith Clark
From Frederick Douglass to the present, the preoccupation of black
writers with manhood and masculinity has been constant. Black Manhood in
Ernest J. Gaines, and
August Wilson explores how in their
own work three major African American writers contest classic portrayals
of black men in earlier literature, from slave narratives through the
great novels of Richard Wright and
Keith Clark examines short stories, novels, and plays by Baldwin,
Gaines, and Wilson, arguing that since the 1950s the three have
interrupted and radically dismantled the constricting literary
depictions of black men who equate selfhood with victimization,
isolation, and patriarchy. Instead, they have reimagined black men whose
identity is grounded in community, camaraderie, and intimacy.
Delivering original and startling insights, this book will appeal to
scholars and students of African American literature, gender studies,
Black Voices (2001), Abraham
Featuring poetry, fiction, autobiography and literary criticism, this is a
comprehensive and vital collection featuring the work of the major black
voices of a century. An unparalleled important classic anthology with
Includes works by Arna Bontemps,
Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin,
Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones,
Richard Wright, and W. E. B. Du Bois.
Richard Wright: The Life and Times
(2001) by Hazel Rowley
Struggles Over the Word: Race and Religion in O'Connor,
Faulkner, Hurston, and Wright (2001) by Timothy
This literary critical study counters the usual
tendency to segregate Southern literature from African American literary
studies. Noting that William Faulkner
and Flannery O'Connor are
classified as Southern writers, whereas
Zora Nehalem Hurston and
Richard Wright are considered black authors,
Timothy P. Caron argues for "an integrated study of the South's literary
culture." He shows that the interaction of Southern religion and race
binds these four writers together. Caron broadens our understanding of
Southern literature to include both white and African American voices.
Student Companion to Richard Wright
(2000) by Robert Felgar
Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past And Present (1999), Henry L.
Gates and Kwame Anthony Appiah, eds.
Of the numerous achievements that distinguish
Richard Wright's place in the history of American literature, perhaps none
is more important than the fact that he was the first African-American
writer to sustain himself professionally from his writings alone.
Primarily through the success of Native Sonand Black Boy,
Wright was able to support, for two decades, a comfortable life for
himself and his family in Paris. He also became, with the publication of
Native Sonalone, the first internationally celebrated Black
American author. If one had to identify the single most influential
shaping force in modern Black literary history, one would probably have to
point to Wright and the publication of Native Son,his first and
most successful novel.
Richard Wright and the Library Card
(1999) by William Miller with R. Gregory Christie, Illustrator
Southern Selves: From Mark Twain and Eudora Welty to Maya Angelou and Kaye Gibbons
-- A Collection
of Autobiographical Writing (1998) by James Watkins
In this marvelous anthology thirty-one of the
South's finest writers -- from Mark Twain
and Maya Angelou to
Kaye Gibbons and
Reynolds Price, to
Eudora Welty and
Richard Wright -- make their intensely personal contributions to a
vibrant collective picture of southern life.
In the hands of these superb artists, the South's rich tradition of
storytelling is brilliantly revealed. Whether slave or master,
intellectual or "redneck," each voice in this moving and unforgettable
collection is proof that southern literature richly deserves its
reputation for irreverent humor, exquisite language, a feeling for place,
and an undying, often heartbreaking sense of the past.
Exiled in Paris: Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, and Others on the Left Bank (1995, 2003)
by James Campbell
Exiled in Paris
provides a compelling look at the personalities who fueled the literary
and philosophical dramas of postwar Paris:
Alexander Trocchi, Boris Vian, Maurice Girodias, and many others. James
Campbell provides a fresh look at Samuel
Beckett's early career; reveals the facts behind the publication of
the scandalous best-seller The Story of O; and tells the poignant
story of Richard Wright's years in exile. He
captures the sense of deliverance that Wright, so accustomed to daily
humiliations in his own country, experienced during his sojourn on the
Left Bank, where, for the first time in his life, he was treated as a
great man of letters. Here, too, are all the circumstances surrounding
Wright's mysterious death, which many close to him regarded as suspicious.
Conversations With Richard Wright
(1993), Keneth Kinnamon and Michel Fabre, eds.
The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright
(1993) by Michel Fabre
New Essays on Native Son (1990),
Keneth Kinnamon, ed.
New Essays on Native Son provides original
insights into this major American novel by Richard Wright. After an
introductory essay by the editor on the conception, composition, and
reception of the novel, four leading Afro-Americanists examine various
aspects of this classic fictional account of violent life and death in a
racist society. John M. Reilly shows how carefully Wright utilises
narrative techniques to subvert conventional American racial discourse and
to establish the authority and authenticity of the protagonist's voice.
Trudier Harris explores some of the social ironies involved in the novel's
unfavourable presentation of female characters. Houston A. Baker Jr,
focuses precisely on the concept of place in a new historicists treatment
of black male and female roles in Native Son against Wright's own
interpretation of Afro-American history in 12 Million Black Voices.
Finally, Craig Werner convincingly relates Native Son to modernism as a
literary movement. Moving beyond the old debate between protest and art,
these essays, informed by new critical theory and perspectives, reveal
previously unsuspected depth, complexity, and resonance in Wright's vision
of black life and his literary resources in expressing it.
Richard Wright (1990) by Joan
Traces the life and achievements of the Black
Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius (1988, 2000) by Margaret Walker
A portrait of the man, a critical look at his work.
The World of Richard Wright
(1985) by Michel Fabre
Richard Wright: Ordeal of a Native Son
(1980) by Addison Gayle
Richard Wright: The Cricitcal Reception
(1978), John M. Reilly, ed.
Richard Wright: Impressions and Perspectives
(1973) by David Ray and Robert M. Farnsworth
The God That Failed (1972)
The God That Failed
is a classic work and crucial document of the Cold War that brings
together essays by six of the most important writers of the twentieth
century on their conversion to and subsequent disillusionment with
communism. In describing their own experiences, the authors illustrate the
fate of leftism around the world. André Gide (France), Richard Wright (the
United States), Ignazio Silone (Italy), Stephen Spender (England), Arthur
Koestler (Germany), and Louis Fischer, an American foreign correspondent,
all tell how their search for the betterment of humanity led them to
communism, and the personal agony and revulsion which then caused them to
reject it. David Engerman's new foreword to this central work of our time
recounts the tumultuous events of the era, providing essential background.
It also describes the book's origins and impact, the influence of
communism in American intellectual life, and how the events described in
The God That Failed provide important lessons today.
The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1899-1967
(1969), Langston Hughes, ed.
Includes works by
Paul Laurence Dunbar,
Ralph Ellison, Richard
Zora Neale Hurston, and
Richard Wright: A Biography
(1968) by Constance Webb
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