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At four years of age, Richard Wright set fire to his home; at five his father deserted the family; by six Richard was - temporarily - an alcoholic. Moved from home to home, from brick tenement to orphanage, he had had, by the age of twelve, only one year's formal education. It was in saloons, railroad yards and streets that he learned the facts about life under white subjection, about fear, hunger and hatred. Gradually he learned to play Jim Crow in order to survive in a world of white hostility, secretly satisfying his craving for books and knowledge until the time came when he could follow his dream of justice and opportunity in the north.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099285069
ISBN-10: 0099285061
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 15-Sep-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » B.O.M. duel selection (with Apartment in Athens) will help override the bad taste in the mouth that this leaves and push it into the ranks of best seller. We reported it originally on June 15th (P. 271) as follows:-"This autobiography might almost be said to supply the roots to Wright's famous novel, Native Son. It is a grim record, a disturbing one, this story of how - in one boy's life - the seeds of hate and distrust and race riots were planted. Wright was born to poverty and hardship in the Deep South; his father deserted his mother, and circumstances and illness drove the little family from place to place, from degradation to degradation. And always there was the thread of fear and hate and suspicion and discrimination - of white set against jew - intolerance. Driven to deceit, to dishonesty: ambition thwarted, motives impugned, Wright struggled against the tide, put by a tiny sum to enable him to move on, and finally reached his goal - Chicago - and there, still against odds pulled himself up and acquired some education through systematic reading, allied himself with the Communists, only to be thrust out for non-conformity, and wrote continually. The whole tragedy of a race seems dramatized and high (or low?) lighted in this record; it is virtually unrelieved by any vestige of human tenderness or humor; there are no bright spots. And yet it rings true. It is an unfinished story of a problem that has still to be met. Perhaps this will force home ??latable facts of a submerged minority, a problem far from being faced squarely "....This is probably the first volume of what will be a two volume autobiography, as it covers only boyhood and early youth. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Richard Wright

Richard Wright was born near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1908. As a child he lived in Memphis, Tennessee, then in an orphanage, and with various relatives. He left home at fifteen and returned to Memphis for two years to work, and in 1934 went to Chicago, where in 1935, he began to work on the Federal Writers' Project. He published Uncle Tom's Children in 1938 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the following year. After the Second World War, he went to live in Paris with his wife and daughters, remaining there until his death in 1960.

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