This is one of the best novels I have ever read. Delves into the soul of a "Black Boy" in Nashville at the turn of the century. I could not put this book down until I was done. Deals with racial descrimination back in the old days. Very Very Good Read ! 5 stars !
From the Publisher
This incredible bestselling classic is Richard Wright's unforgettable and eloquent autobiography of growing up in the Jim Crow South.
From The Critics
Black Boy is Richard Wrights unforgettable story of growing up in the Jim Crow South. Published in 1945, it is often considered a fictionalized autobiography or an autobiographical novel because of Wrights use of fiction techniques (and possibly fictional events) to tell his story. Nevertheless, the book is a lyrical and skillfully wrought description of Wrights hungry youth in rural Mississippi and Memphis, told from the perspective of the adult Wright, who was still trying to come to grips with the cruel deprivations and humiliations of his childhood.
Life in the precivil rights South was intensely alienating for young Richard. At every turn, his desire to communicate was stunted, whether by famiIy members who insisted he "hush!" or by teachers who harassed and mocked him. He was surrounded by people he considered contemptibly ignorant, people who willingly allowed their lives to be restricted by tradition and authority no matter how illegitimate or self-destructive. Whether they were racist whites or passive, uncompassionate blacks, his fellow southerners viewed Richards independence and intelligence with suspicion and scorned and humiliated him for his family's poverty. He lashed out by hitting the streets: He was already drinking by the time he turned six, and he fought constantly. He finally found his outlet in writing; by the end of the book, he decided that there was nothing he could ever do to improve his life in the South and committed to moving to Chicago to pursue his art.
When first published,Black Boy was considered by many to be an angry attack on the racist South because of Wrights hard-hitting portrayal of the racism he faced, not to mention his already-acquired reputation as a "protest writer." But the books value goes deeper than that: Wright bears witness to the American struggle for the right of self-definition. His own quest to escape the suffocating world of his childhood and find a place where he could freely exercise his individuality, creativity, and integrity was ultimately successful. But Black Boy also offers insight into an entire culture of people, both black and white, who had unthinkingly accepted a narrowly prescribed course of life. As Wright put it, "[though] they lived in America where in theory there existed equality of opportunity, they knew unerringly what to aspire to and what not to aspire to." Despite Wrights stifling environment, his story is inspirational for its portrait of how a black boy shucked off the limited expectations of those around him and dared to aspire.
This book should become a MUST READ for all college curriculums. It's premise is ageless. It encompasses the entire experience of being black in the South as well as Jim Crow Laws and being white in the South. Richard Wright tells his story in a personal way while giving historical information about a time that our country should not be proud of, but must not be forgotten lest it be repeated. Whites should come away with more sensitivity to the struggles of todays blacks. (Using Mr. Wrights terminology for ethnicity.)
I never got around to reading this book, but have enjoyed another one by this same author.
This book is on the Modern Library's 100 Most Influential Non-Fiction books for good reason. Highly recommended reading.