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Black Boy

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  36,099 Ratings  ·  1,284 Reviews
Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around 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 resent ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1945)
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Apr 03, 2013 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
Professor Amy Hungerford points out in her Open Yale lectures:
that there is a certain amount of well-founded doubt as to the absolute accuracy of this work as an autobiography. Wright, however, does not claim this as his life, but rather as a Record of Youth and Childhood, the tale of a Black Boy growing up in the Southern States between the two World Wars. Thus a generic life. There can be no doubt whatsoever about its emotional authenticity. I read this
Apr 04, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt something shift in me as a reader as I neared the end of Wright’s autobiography. Where he began relating his experiences of, and delineating his theoretical disagreements with, the Communist party in Chicago, my experience of reading became less interactive, less organic, and to some degree, less interesting. I think I stopped making personal connections to the material. I was no longer reading to discover what feelings, ideas, or insights his story would incite in me. Instead, I began en ...more
Emily Loeb
Jan 27, 2008 Emily Loeb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black Boy is the book that made me fall in love with reading. I was in Italy with my family on spring break and I was required to read Black Boy for my english class. This book pulled me in. I remember walking around Italy with my nose in the book, barely looking up. I made my step-dad stop in a bookstore so I could buy more books by Richard Wright. I read Native Son next. As Black Boy is Wright's autobiography, I was enthralled with Richard Wright's life and how he was able to escape the hardsh ...more
May 04, 2016 brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i’m in the minority (minority. heh heh.) in finding this book superior to ellison’s invisible man. it might not be as daring, might lack the touch of modernist irony, but sometimes ya gotta shove all that aside and recognize a great book for just being a great book. something ellison’s book just ain't.

Denise Cooper
Oct 28, 2015 Denise Cooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
THIS IS CLEARLY ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I WILL EVER READ. Do yourself a favor if you have not already.

Read Richard Wright's Black Boy.

There's hungry, beauty, poetry, anger, love, life, imagination, struggle and far too much to mention. An easy read because the writing is so real.
Dec 19, 2007 Kris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
During some sort of standardized test in high school one of our reading comprehension sections included a section of this book. It was the section where young Richard Wright (living in Alabama?) wanted to read libraby books, but couldn't check books out of the library because he was black. Wright went to the one person in the office where he worked as a janitor who might be sympathetic--because the man was Catholic and also suffered from slights from the other white Southerners. Wright had to as ...more
Did I seriously just start this book two days ago? I lost track of time while I was reading this. I just sort of fell into it, only coming up for air for pesky things like work. And peeing.

I'm ashamed to say I haven't read anything by Richard Wright prior to this. I've been sitting on a few of his books, not really sure what I was waiting for. I decided to start with this one as it's a memoir and I figured a good a place as any to get a feel for an author. Now I'm glad I did so; I learned quite
Here's Richard Wright going door to door in the 1920s Jim Crow South trying to sell his dog for a dollar because he's starving. A white lady offers him 97 cents and, feeling some distant surge of fury inside, he turns her down, goes home with his dog and his hunger. A few days later (view spoiler) and this book is a bummer. This is not quite 100 years ago, this hellish world he's trying to claw out of. The degradation required of black peopl ...more
Maureen Brunner
Every so often I will personally discover a story (not just "know" about it), written before my time, that opens up a world of enlightenment and gives answers to questions I didn't realize I had. Black Boy, the autobiographical memoir of author Richard Wright, is one of those novels. Originally, Black Boy was published as two separate novels (Black Boy and American Hunger). The first dealing with his childhood through late adolescents in the south. The second begins with Wright realizing his dre ...more
Lisa (Likenbooks)
Feb 28, 2016 Lisa (Likenbooks) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much to be said about this book that I couldn't possibly give a good review and include everything.

Many times I was left speechless and at times laughed at the innocence of a child who knew no better and was forced to grow up too fast and learn things on his own. Wright was definitely a character and he shares his experience about his family, the many times he had to move and the number of schools he attended because of these moves. He shares his ordeal with hunger, a father who abandons them
Black Boy is a deeply horrifying and intelligent memoir from Richard Wright, a Mississippi black boy who became so much more than black boys were supposed to become. His earliest memories on a Southern plantation and the tough streets of Memphis become fantastic stories that he, unfortunately, had to live.

Richard is different, who knows why, but he’s different. All the black families living on his street are hungry, but Richard wonders why he’s hungry. Why can’t his mother, a cook at a restaura
May 08, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around 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.

Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence t
Christopher Trader
Feb 06, 2014 Christopher Trader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
I must admit, right from the start, that this will be a very poor review. It will be a poor review because such a work of wonder and artistry could never be properly praised with mere words alone. I fear I lack the talent to even come near doing justice to the education this book has given me. To the depth of philosophy and emotion drawn forth by Wright's writing.

I want to start by sharing why I chose to read this work. Many years ago I purchased a copy of Wright's work, Native Son. I don't rem
Samantha Lazar
This book is an autobiography about Richard Wright's life. He grew up in the Jim Crow South in terrible living conditions. He was separated from his mother many times because she could not afford to provide for Richard and his brother, he was physically beaten, and verbally abused because of his race. Some parts of the book move rather slow, but for the most part, I really enjoyed reading it. It is so sad to see how people were treated because of their skin color. Ignorant people need to learn c ...more
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When my teacher started going over the themes that were going to be in this book, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. The first chapter, however, was a great hook and I couldn't stop reading it. Richard Wright had such a hard life yet he somehow survived it all and stayed true to himself. While reading it, I was upset and yet full admiration. This book caused me to question and think about life and the issues that seem to always recur. I remember thinking that he just couldn't get a break
Jerri Brissette
Sep 03, 2009 Jerri Brissette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By the second page of this book, I had formed a distaste for this little boy. I don't care what the age of the child, the frightful action of this one seemed as if it could only result from stupidity, not innocense. Shortly thereafter, his callus harming of an innocent kitten furthered my dislike. However, as a great many children do, he matured not so badly after all. I must respect Richard Wright for the honesty with which he tells his story, not leaving out those early, disturbing actions whi ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How. How is this book possible. How can I find my white 90s childhood in Maryland reflected so clearly in recollections of a black, indigent childhood in Jim Crow Mississipi. And yet how can I still see Wright's bloody picture painted so clearly, of the gulf across race and time and geography that he, along with thousands of others, had to travel in order to achieve what little self-actualization America would allow them.

How can Wright be so lightning-fisted in his portraits of the abuse of blac
Apr 05, 2014 Ken rated it really liked it
Breezy read with brutal content, Black Boy chronicles what life was like for blacks in the Deep South of the 1920's. Wright's is a straightforward style, pulling no punches, quite modern in its tone and style mixing frank narrative and dialogue. The product of a broken home, the striving Wright had constant trouble with his religious family. He resisted assimilation into the church and experienced his share of violence.

As he grows and looks for work, the reader is witness to case after case of S
Jan 20, 2016 Ari rated it really liked it
IQ "My comrades had known me, my family, my friends; they, God knows, had known my aching poverty. But they had never been able to conquer their fear of the individual way in which I acted and lived, an individuality which life had seared into my life and bones" 363

Part of what makes this book so riveting is Richard's individualistic nature. It truly seem to arise out of nowhere, no one in his family nurtured that instinct in him and yet he rises above his circumstances to be extremely curious w
Aug 16, 2015 Oscar rated it liked it

This was a very upsetting and painful book. It is a raw examination of racism, suffering, and cruelty. It was gorgeously written and insightful, however, all the aspects of PART I that made the book so incredible were almost entirely gone from PART II which unfortunately dampened my enjoyment of this book substantially.
Spider the Doof Warrior
Richard Wright wrote in a poetic style about his miserable childhood complete with starvation, racism, bitter religion and people hitting him over stupid things like saying things they didn't like. He doesn't fit into the world he lives in. He questions it and makes those around him angry as a result. It's a fascinating book about race relationships that shows how much things have changed since the times Wright grew up in.
Oct 06, 2007 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: urban-romance
This books is well written but a classic autobiography of a black boy's journey during the Jim Crow South. I loved this book because it was easy to read, it takes you back in time, intense, and based on literary history. This book is a must have as a collection on a bookshelf.
Kayli Wolber
Oct 19, 2014 Kayli Wolber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir of Richard Wright is extremely well-developed and shows the great meanings to his life. Richard uses many literary devices to keep readers interested. This memoir chronicles aspects of Wright's life, through the good and the bad and creates clear images of the struggles he grew up with. The text flows with ease and enables a clear timeline of events.

I enjoyed reading this book because Wright uses certain tones to create emotion and allows you to feel like you're going through his lif
Nov 11, 2012 Longfellow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read Black Boy specifically as a follow up to Gone With the Wind. In GWtW, I noticed in spots the narrator revealed a certain attitude, a perspective toward blacks that, while (I assumed) honest and sincere, struck me as prejudiced, even perhaps contemptuous at times.

Within this perspective was an assumption that the narrator—3rd person limited—knew what blacks, including freed slaves, thought and felt. To be fair, this perspective also included a sincere (but conditional) love and l
Nov 16, 2011 Wesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richard Wright lead and enduring life of cultural strain and endless perseverance. Put in the worst of situations without knowing. Relying on his conscious and “hidden will” he would push on. He had the love of his mother but during a time the country took guidance to really survive in. Losing a father figure before his father had even left his family would be the cause of this. To live during the time that Wright did and rise above the nations indiscretions, meant you become tough mentally and ...more
I hovered back and forth between 3 and 4 stars for a few minutes and chose 4 so I would not look like I was a racially-biased reader, and it occurred to me that much of what Wright explores in this autobiography must still be in play.

The events of the book cover Wright's life from about age four in 1912 Mississippi through the mid-1930's in Chicago. Throughout, Wright recounts his endless failures to truly understand people - black and white - and his inability to be understood in return. His d
Mark Ward
Jun 07, 2016 Mark Ward rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2016
Stirring, insightful, and beautiful. So many memorable and powerful vignettes. I do see why the Book of the Month Club dropped the second part, but I was glad to read it, too.

I did keep feeling as if Wright portrayed himself in a somewhat more favorable light than was truly just—though it's difficult to blame someone who suffered so much for so long, and from such a tender age. I did sometimes wonder if the apparent deadness of other people's inner lives (the white waitresses at the restaurant w
The reason why I enjoyed the perspective of Richard Wright in this book so much was the fact that it was coming from the perspective of a black person who didn't fit in in the black community, as well as the white one.

He didn't fit in with whites, obviously, because they hated him for being black and 'too' confident.

What's more interesting is his relationship with blacks...

Richard didn't fit in with blacks because he couldn't lower himself to fit into their self-destructive self-loathing and c
Oct 19, 2014 Jazzarae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Devin Attig
Jan 09, 2015 Devin Attig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with the author, Richard Wright, losing what little he had in the town of Natchez, Mississippi. He is only four years old and his house is burned down and after this his father leaves the family. This leaves him with his brother Alan and an ill, poor-minded mother who is not afraid to beat him. Richard moves many times and struggles with poverty. He must attempt to climb his way out of the never ending struggle of hunger and the class system that is ever present in the United Sta ...more
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Around the Year i...: Black Boy: American Hunger, by Richard Wright 1 10 Feb 21, 2016 07:21PM  
Good or Bad Memoir 1 6 Jan 03, 2016 07:01PM  
Do not recommend this book 18 165 Dec 30, 2015 09:22AM  
Kinship through literature 2 20 Mar 14, 2013 04:28PM  
The Bookhouse Boys: Black Boy Discussion 56 31 Mar 06, 2013 02:42PM  
What age level for this book? 8 111 Jun 10, 2012 08:47AM  
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Richard Nathaniel Wright was an African-American author of powerful, sometimes controversial novels, short stories and non-fiction. Much of his literature concerned racial themes. His work helped redefine discussions of race relations in America in the mid-20th century.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
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“Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books...” 2263 likes
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” 1148 likes
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