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Native Son (Perennial Classics) Library Binding – 29 May 2008

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Product details

  • Library Binding: 512 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1435293401
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435293403
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,727,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Before he was 40, Wright dominated literary America, publishing four books in seven years, each a triumph in its genre. His first novel, Native Son (1940), sold at the rate of 2,000 copies a day, making Wright the first best-selling black writer in the country's history. Black Boy (1945), his memoir of his Southern childhood, was a bigger success, selling more than a half-million copies." (New York Times)

"Richard Wright's Native Son is, in addition to being a masterpiece, a Great American Novel" (David Mamet Guardian)

"Unsettling urban violence from the man who was Mosley's inspiration" (The Times)

"Native Son is the story of a young black man who kills two white women; and it was the first book - published in 1940 - to suggest that black Americans could actually get angry. When it came out, it beat The Grapes of Wrath in the best-seller lists" (Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Richard Wright's brutal and gripping novel was a huge hit - selling at a rate of 2,000 copies a day - on first publication in 1940. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "bennyp1985" on 4 April 2003
Format: Paperback
Guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, once picked up it's impossible to put down. If it's a fairy tale ending you're after, this definitely isn't for you. Descibing vividly the poverty, deprivation and oppression suffered by the black people of 1930/40's America, a special message is conveyed through a host of disturbing truths that are certain to hit the reader hard. The central character, Bigger Thomas is portrayed as both murderer and victim in this cleverly devised masterpiece. The sufferings of an entire race seem subject to the future of Thomas, the 20 year old man who's life has been predominantly controlled by a cold and fierce people. This WHITE blanket that smothers the BLACK world that Bigger grows to hate provides the reader with a situation they undoubtedly become passionate about. By the end, the reader is left feeling subdued; resentful yet compassionate and merciful. The only criticism i would have, is that the book does depend a lot upon the reader being able to empathise with Bigger, which is something that i personally found quite hard to do. Neverthless, another must read from Richard Wright.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE on 5 April 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bigger Thomas is a deeply disaffected black man living in post-Depression pre WW2 Chicago. He hates the white world as much as most of it appears to hate him and this novel recounts his tale through double murder,pusuit,capture and trial.

Wright has a lead character who is a bully,thug and coward whom he must bestow with deep insights into rabid racism, anti-semitism and pre McCarthy anti-Communism. These are major,worthy themes but for me Bigger just isn't the voice for them.

The trial scene is very weak descending into a polemic rant which Bigger 'don't understand' and I can sympathise with him at 'falling asleep through most of it'.

In 1940 this must have been powerful stuff and it's worth reading in that context. It chugs along and is worth 3 stars.

Mr Wright's 'Introduction' to this work states, 'I am not so pretentious as to imagine that it is possible for me to account completely for my own book...But I am going to try to account for as much of it as I can....' and 30 pages of Intro later he has had a good go! Pretentious?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on 28 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
Although "Native Son" is not written in the first person, the narrative concentrates almost exclusively on the central character, Bigger Thomas. This gives the story all the intensity and focus of a first-person account, but enables the author to use a more articulate voice than his subject would have been capable of. Few novelists have employed this technique in such an uncompromising way. We are with Thomas every breath, every step. I think few readers will get to like him, any more than Wright himself does, but we get to know and understand him. He is a product of 1930s America, of deeply ingrained racial prejudice and extreme economic disparity. Wright does not suggest that this excuses Bigger, only that it explains him. The writing style is lean and muscular, sparse and direct. We are given only bare descriptions as Wright allows action and dialogue to carry the story.
The plot is sound, the only really implausible element being the gathering of the entire cast of characters in the prison cell, something Wright himself acknowledged could not happen in reality but for which he allowed himself dramatic license. It is true though, that the final phase goes on too long and the long diatribes from Max are unconvincing. Another socialist writer, Upton Sinclair, suffered from the same tendency to preach instead of relying on the story to carry the message. Despite these reservations, "Native Son" remains an important social commentary and a forceful and compelling portrait of a lost soul.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pepper on 18 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
This is probably one of the most intense books I've ever read. It's confusing how the writer causes the reader to be revolted by his crimes yet we are also inside the protagonists head and feel we are also along for the ride. Aside from the murders, this book is an eye opener into the racial prejudices that were faced, and aspects are probably still relevant today.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By CESP on 29 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is very user friendly and the type of dramatic realism that can't fails to grasp one's attention. From the outset the reader is embroiled in the grim cirmcumstances of the protagonist, but the author does not paint his protagonist as either a hero or a victim keeping the book nicely neutral for the reader to make their conclusions from the hard-hitting storyline.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aieshea Wheeler on 6 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
I read Black Boy a few years ago and loved it. Richard Wright is an amazing writer and his description of Bigger and his thoughts, fears and life are well written. and the way its written brings you into the story and into biggers world.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
... there was Richard Wright. He wrote this book some 75 years after the ending of America's "original sin," slavery. The central theme is that what replaced it was not much better. The year was 1940, the Great Depression seemed endless, and it was not known that World War would soon provide the "meaningful employment" that would end it. Segregation was the law in the South, the practice in the North, and the very act that created the current president of the United States was illegal in 30 of the 48 states, and would remain illegal in at least 16 of them until as late as 1967. Miscegenation is a very loaded word, used not only in the States, but also in many "colonial environments," and it too is a central aspect of the novel--the desire of a poor black man for that dazzling image that he is not "entitled" to--a rich white woman. The Book of the Month Club selected it as a main selection in that year, and it sold 250,000 copies--but only after Wright agreed to bowdlerize his "cri de coeur," so as not to offend white "sensibilities." The unexpurgated version has finally been restored. Taken within its historical context, I believe it is one of the top ten American novels of the 20th century.

Baldwin actually began his prolific career by criticizing Wright, calling this book "mere protest" fiction. And there is some element of truth in Baldwin's critic: Wright's characters have an element of the two dimensional "socialist realism" of the old Soviet Union--no doubt due to Wright's strong sympathies with the Communists of the time. Ironically though, both Wright and Baldwin decided to give up on America, and each sought solace in the same place--France. On the other hand, "protest" was long overdue, and is central to the novel's message.
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