Black Boy - Richard Wright

Black Boy

By Richard Wright

  • Release Date: 2009-06-16
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 140 Ratings


Richard Wright's powerful and eloquent memoir of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South—at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment, Black Boy is a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

When Black Boy exploded onto the literary scene in 1945, it caused a sensation. Orville Prescott of the New York Times wrote that “if enough such books are written, if enough millions of people read them maybe, someday, in the fullness of time, there will be a greater understanding and a more true democracy.” Opposing forces felt compelled to comment: addressing Congress, Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi argued that the purpose of this book “was to plant seeds of hate and devilment in the minds of every American.” From 1975 to 1978, Black Boy was banned in schools throughout the United States for “obscenity” and “instigating hatred between the races.”

The once controversial, now classic American autobiography measures the brutality and rawness of the Jim Crow South against the sheer desperate will it took to survive. Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi, with poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those about him; at six he was a “drunkard,” hanging about in taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot. The second half of the book focuses on Wright’s move north to Chicago, and his experiences with the Communist Party (a section that was pulled from the book’s original publication).

Black Boy is Richard Wright's compelling account of his journey. Deeply affecting and beautifully written, it is as timely today as when it was first published nearly seventy-five years ago.


  • Extraordinary man. Extraordinary life. Extraordinary book.

    By OnteoraSucks.
    I read this book for an advanced placement literacy class in my high school, and we were given the summer to read it and write an essay on it. I started about a month into summer because the summary seemed so made up; him being "a drunkard at age six". When I finally started I could not stop reading. Not only was the content of this man's life extraordinary, the way Wright transformed his story into a book is too. The historical context is left in the background but always present, as to let us readers feel what he felt and why he felt it, based on the time period. Although you need to know the time period in which his life takes place, if you don't know the details of life in the south during this era, you will know it like you lived it yourself by the end of the book. I give it 5 stars, only because that is the limit. It's an easy read, especially if you're willing to crack a dictionary a few times (which I highly recommend if you want the full effect of it).
  • Black Boy

    By DJS
    I hate to say this is "required reading" for all Americans, but it is! I read it as a teenager, and my ideas about race were transformed
  • i am me

    By papswquack
    i loved the book. everytime i read it, it feels so new to me
  • =l

    By ann112
    It's ok... Very intense, filled w/ a LOT of hate. Personally a little depressing for my taste, but hey if you like this go ahead! Had to read it for English class...
  • Table of contents?

    By G Smits
    The book itself is excellent and worth reading. I remove stars from my rating only because the individual chapters are not included in the table of contents. Consequently, when reading Part 1, you see that you have 400+ pages left in the chapter. I find this a vey lazy implementation by the publisher and should be corrected.

    By omega_papi
    this was and is the only book i did not read the cliff notes on and believe me when i tell u i finished it in 2 days could not but it down in high schoool great book
  • Great!

    By Hello 1246865234615235
    Very good book!
  • Black boy

    By Mario/Ronaldo
    Great book, love it! :)
  • 4
    By condorqwerty
    It's okay. A good read; not great, but okay.
  • An unforgettable book

    By xxchaconixx
    I read this book for the first time, about 6 years ago in my Honors English class. This book touches you very deep that you will never forget the storyline.