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The Man Who Lived Underground: A Novel

Best Seller
The Man Who Lived Underground: A Novel by Richard Wright
Hardcover $22.95
Apr 20, 2021 | ISBN 9781598536768

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  • Apr 20, 2021 | ISBN 9781598536768

    Also available from:

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“It’s impossible to read Wright’s novel without thinking of this 21st-century moment. . . . Wright deserves sensitive reconsideration, especially now that so many of us have been proved naive in our belief that an honest rendering of Black people might lead to recognition of our existence in the universality of humanity.” —Imani Perry, The Atlantic

“Moves continuously forward with its masterful blend of action and reflection, a kind of philosophy on the run. . . . Whether or not The Man Who Lived Underground is Wright’s single finest work, it must be counted among his most significant.”
—Clifford Thompson, The Wall Street Journal

“Enthralling. . . . You could say that the book’s release now is timely, given that it contains an account of police torture. . . .  But that feels false because Wright’s story would have been just as relevant if it had been released 10 years ago or 30, 50, or 80—when he composed it. . . . Maybe, then, it’s more accurate to think of The Man Who Lived Underground as timeless rather than timely.” The New Republic 

“Resonates deeply as a story about race and the struggle to envision a different, better world. A welcome literary resurrection that deserves a place alongside Wright’s best-known work.” 
Kirkus (starred review)

“Finally, this devastating inquiry into oppression and delusion, this timeless tour de force, emerges in full, the work Wright was most passionate about, as he explains in the profoundly illuminating essay, ‘Memories of My Grandmother,’ also published here for the first time. This blazing literary meteor should land in every collection.” 
Booklist (starred review)

“The power and pain of Wright’s writing are evident in this wrenching novel. . . . Wright makes the impact of racist policing palpable as the story builds to a gut-punch ending, and the inclusion of his essay ‘Memories of My Grandmother’ illuminates his inspiration for the book. This nightmarish tale of racist terror resonates.”  —Publishers Weekly

“This astonishing novel [is at last] available to readers, fulfilling a dream Wright wasn’t able to realize in his lifetime.” —

“To read The Man Who Lived Underground today — it arrives on April 20, intact for the first time, published by the posterity-minded Library of America — is to recognize an author who knew his work could be shelved for decades without depreciation. Because this is America. Because police misconduct, to use the genteel 2021 term, is ageless. Check the copyright page, read the production notes: Yes, this was written in 1941. Yes, it’s 80 years later. Yes, Wright died in 1960, at 52, having never scaled again the commercial heights of Native Son. Yet somehow The Man Who Lived Underground found its way into bookstores at the right time.” —The Chicago Tribune

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