March 24, 2021

The Man Who Lived Underground

"All members of oppressed minorities hold an innate understanding of it." ~ 93%

Major literary events come around every so often. Richard Wright is the legendary author of Native Son. In about a month, the public will be graced with The Man Who Lived Underground, a previously unpublished novel from the 1940s. 

A black man is picked up randomly by the police after a brutal murder. Fred Daniels is taken to the precinct and tortured until he confesses to a crime he didn't commit. Let me remind you at this point that the same shit happens today in 2021 that happened when Wright wrote this nearly 80 years ago. EIGHTY YEARS AGO. Okay back to my review...

"Sign the paper, boy!" ~ 10%

After escaping, Fred takes up residence where no one can find him—underground in the sewers below the streets of Chicago. You can imagine all the possible things he witnessed, feared and experienced. All the while trying not to become the black criminal that society expects of him. The author also depicts the religious impulses among "Negroes" using his grandmother's life as a model. Add in the narrative of being falsely accused and this novel is still relevant today.

The Man Who Lived Underground was written in a different era. When lynching and beatings were widespread. When grown black men were called a "boy" by white men. It is a powerful novel in its full form. But what I enjoyed most was the essay at the end. What a treat to glimpse into Wright's motivations behind writing such a timely novel.

Happy Early Pub Day to the late great Richard Wright! The Man Who Lived Underground will be available Tuesday, April 20.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Man Who Lived Underground
Author: Richard Wright
Published: April 2021
Pages: 250
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤

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