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Black Boy: A Record of Youth and Childhood (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 17 Aug 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (17 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099285061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099285069
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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)

"A compelling indictment of life in the Deep South between the wars" (Daily Telegraph)

"An angry chronicle of a bright black rebel growing up in the Jim Crow southlands: a landmark in the literature of Black America" (The Times)

Book Description

Richard Wright's memoir of his childhood as a young black boy in the American south of the 1920s and 30s sold more than half a million copies on first publication and is considered a classic of the genre.

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Where to start? I am a very selective reader and mainly choose autobiographies. I was recommended to this book by someone I greatly respect. They were spot on.

It is very easy for all of us to take for granted the life we have. Some of us do not know how tough life can be. Richard Wright made me sit up and take notice. I was taken aback by this book and felt compelled to let everyone know that it is a fantastic insight of how bad life can be. Not only that, it also shows the inner strength to fight and come through the darkness, a stronger and better person.

I am not going to detail the stories within the book, I think it is for you to check it out. I was so impressed that I read it in just a day! It is witty, dark, thought provoking, sad and happy all rolled in to one. I promise you that you will not regret picking up this book, but will be disappointed when there are no more pages to read.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Wright's 'Black Boy' tells of Wright's childhood through to youth in early 1900s south America and his bitter struggle against abject poverty, the racial hatred of white people, a religion forced upon him that offered him neither solace nor faith and a family who didn't understand him. A powerful and raw autobiography that evokes every emotion from great sadness, fear and anger to love, compassion, trust and even humour. Tremendously well written - one of those books you'll find you won't be able to stop reading once you start - all the more moving for being a true and triumphant account of one boy's life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Published in 1945, the autobiography of Richard Wright Black Boy was originally going to be told in two parts. The first part chronicled Richards upbringing in Mississippi and his eventual realisation that in order to make something of himself he needed to leave the south. The second part of the book followed Richard in Chicago as he establishes himself as a writer.

Just when Black Boy was going to be published, the book was picked up by the Book of the Month club (which was the equivalent of the Oprah Winfrey book club today.) But the Book Club would only accept the first part of the book and this is how the book was originally published. Today you can buy the full version of Richards life in the south and the north but for some reason my copy only contains the first part of his life in the south.

Born in 1908 I am sure you can imagine the kind of life that a black boy born in Mississippi at that time had.. The book starts in a very dramatic way when Richard accidentally burns down his family home and then we follow his childhood as he deals with his father leaving, poverty, racial hatred and his family forcing their religion on him.

Wright is an incredibility talented writer and he attempts to explain how he has turned out the way he has and why he ultimately had to leave the south in order to pursue his dreams as a writer. He explains how the culture in the south at that time among black people forced him to behave in a certain way in order to avoid being noticed or lynched and how attitudes and nervousness towards white people were ingrained from a very early age (with good reason). All this meant was that he was unable to truly be himself within the communities that he lived in.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Wright's autobiography begins with his setting fire to his own house at age four, the result of a bored and fractious mood. And his troubles don't end there...

This is a great read, full of incident and forensically recorded detail from Wright's life as a black boy struggling with the daily realities of racial segregation in the American South in the 1920s.

It is very different to reading, say, To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men, both of which deal with similar issues. Wright is on the inside looking out; he is an articulate victim of the racism of the time - unlike a Harper Lee or a John Steinbeck. As such he creates for the reader a distinct and palpable sense of the unease, terror and mental imprisonment of the banalities of everyday prejudice. In this, the book is most important.

I was also struck not just by how Wright struggles to decipher and function in the white world but how, as a highly individual and intelligent person, he also struggles to fit in with his own people, many of whom are stunted by religious puritanism. Misunderstanding and miscommunication is rife in both the black and white worlds.

For this reason it is all the more remarkable that this unique individual managed to survive and write his way to some measure of success on his own terms - free of the white prejudices which attempt to enslave him and free of the quiescence of the blacks who adapt themselves just to survive.

Essential reading.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Wright's story of his life reads like a novel. Wright tells of the hardships he faced growing up in a racist society (South of the USA early 20th century). Although this is a very serious book, it has many humorous moments in it that lighten the mood. The work gives great insight into what it was like to be African American during the era Wright grew up in. This book is a must read.
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