The Man Who Lived Underground

A Novel

by Richard Wright

On Sale: 04/20/2021

The Man Who Lived Underground

A Novel

by Richard Wright

On Sale: 04/20/2021

Format:

About the Book

The Man Who Lived Underground reminds us that any ‘greatest writers of the 20th century’ list that doesn’t start and end with Richard Wright is laughable. It might very well be Wright’s most brilliantly crafted, and ominously foretelling, book.” —Kiese Laymon

A major literary event: an explosive, previously unpublished novel about race and violence in America by the legendary author of Native Son and Black Boy

Fred Daniels, a Black man, is picked up by the police after a brutal double murder and tortured until he confesses to a crime he did not commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from custody and flees into the city’s sewer system.

This is the devastating premise of this scorching novel, a never-before-seen masterpiece by Richard Wright. Written between his landmark books Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945), at the height of his creative powers, it would see publication in Wright's lifetime only in drastically condensed and truncated form, and ultimately be included in the posthumous short story collection Eight Men (1961). 

Now, for the first time, by special arrangement with the author’s estate, the full text of the work that meant more to Wright than any other (“I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration”) is published in the form that he intended, complete with his companion essay, “Memories of My Grandmother.” Malcolm Wright, the author’s grandson, contributes an afterword.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

The Man Who Lived Underground reminds us that any ‘greatest writers of the 20th century’ list that doesn’t start and end with Richard Wright is laughable. It might very well be Wright’s most brilliantly crafted, and ominously foretelling, book.”  - Kiese Laymon

"The power and pain of Wright’s writing are evident in this wrenching novel. . . . Wright makes the impact of racist policing palpable as the story builds to a gut-punch ending, and the inclusion of his essay “Memories of My Grandmother” illuminates his inspiration for the book. This nightmarish tale of racist terror resonates." - Publishers Weekly

“Propulsive, haunting. . . . The graphic, gripping book ends with a revealing companion essay that further explains the themes of this searing novel.” - Oprah Daily

“Now, finally, this devastating inquiry into oppression and delusion, this timeless tour de force, emerges in full. . . . This blazing literary meteor should land in every collection.” - Booklist (starred review)

"A welcome literary resurrection that deserves a place alongside Wright’s best-known work."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Never did Wright approach race more directly than in The Man Who Lived Underground." - Los Angeles Times

"The Man Who Lived Underground is constructed of the precise, often terse, sentences that are a hallmark of Wright’s work, and its prose, thrumming with energy, has many pleasures to offer. Its story, in contrast, contains none. Simply put, it’s a work of horror." - New Republic

"To read The Man Who Lived Underground today . . .  is to recognize an author who knew his work could be shelved for decades without depreciation. Because this is America. Because police misconduct, to use the genteel 2021 term, is ageless." - Chicago Tribune

"Like a telegram from mid-century America warning us about our very present, Richard Wright’s novel arrived with the shock of recognition for readers in the midst of a reckoning with racial injustice." - Time Magazine

Resources

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062971463
  • ISBN 10: 0062971468
  • Imprint: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
  • On Sale: 04/20/2021
  • Pages: 304
  • List Price:11.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / African American / General
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Literary
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / Classics

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