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The Big Sea  By  cover art

The Big Sea

By: Langston Hughes,Arnold Rampersad
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
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Publisher's Summary

Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade - Harlem and Paris. In Paris he was a cook and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was a rising young poet - at the center of the "Harlem Renaissance."

Arnold Rampersad writes in his incisive new introduction to The Big Sea, an American classic: "This is American writing at its best - simpler than Hemingway; as simple and direct as that of another Missouri-born writer...Mark Twain."

©1940 Langston Hughes (P)2011 Random House Audio

Featured Article: 150+ of the Best Quotes from Black Authors, Activists, Entrepreneurs, and Artists to Celebrate Black History Month


Black History is American History. Whether writers, poets, activists, entertainers, scientists, entrepreneurs, or some combination thereof, Black people have frequently offered exactly the right words when they were needed most. This sweeping collection of wise, stirring, and thought-provoking words from Black Americans offers much to inspire all Americans.

What listeners say about The Big Sea

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Big Sea

I totally enjoyed this book. It was like reminiscing about old friends from long ago. It is a must listen.

4 people found this helpful

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Surprisingly Adventurous

I would recommend this book to all types of readers. It is much more than a first account of history. I truly enjoied listening to every minute of it. The narration was also well done.

2 people found this helpful

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Mixed Review

Would you listen to The Big Sea again? Why?

Yes, I bought the book and I plan to listen along so I can mark in the margins things I want to learn more about.

What did you like best about this story?

Learning a whole segment of history no one ever shared before.

How could the performance have been better?

Oh the performance was awful. The narrator was stiff and wooden. Mispronounced important words, and put the emphasis on the wrong parts of many sentences.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

?

2 people found this helpful

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Great Book

I had this book in my wish list for a while and just got around to reading it. I really found out quite a bit about the author. I didn't know he had such an adventurous life, Some intentional and some not. I also have a much better understanding of the Harlem Renaissance and who a lot of the artists were during that period. Whenever that period comes up, you only typically hear of only a handful of artists. Reading the book gave me a few more things to pick out to read. Sometimes literature can be timeless because some things about society have not changed much. The way he describes interactions between the races can almost be present day. I noted the exact same thing about Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin. I understand more about what inspired him to write what he did write. And it makes me want to read even more of Mr. Hughes' work.

The only thing that through me off was the recording. The narrator was great. I felt he was able to capture a lot of the experiences and emotion. It just sounded like they put him in a closet with a slight echo.

1 person found this helpful

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Wanting to read more Langston Hughes now.

Great book. Excellent narrator! I hope he reads for all of the Langston Hughes books in Audible!

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interesting, easy to listen to educational

rare view of struggles with what being a minority meant and still l means. beautifully written

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Captures the times

This is a beautifully written memoir by a key literary and political figure of the 20th Century. Get the feel of the Harlem Renaissance and what it felt to be Black in America before WW II.

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Langston Hughes was legendary 🙌🏾

such a beautifully written story of his life. just the way he wants to be known. the long introduction is so very necessary!

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His poetry and his life story are wonderful

Always loved his writing but his life story fills in how this literary artist became the icon he is now.

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Amazing Story

This was a journey in the life of one of my favorite poets. I enjoyed getting to know the person behind the expressive, profound, and bold works he created. It seems to me that he was older than his years throughout this book. I want to praise both Arnold Rampersad and Dominic Hoffman for their dedication to this book's adaptation and performance. Well Done!!

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  • Rudy Lorentz
  • 04-18-17

A must read

What did you like most about The Big Sea?

Hughes' seemingly honest and vivid portrayal of his life is a must read. The way that the book centres on travel is a very interesting thread to follow, and an important example of a black man's experiences at the time

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  • Mr. C. G. Moore
  • 02-22-17

Slow and rambling

What disappointed you about The Big Sea?

An interesting live, told in a slow boring way. If you wanted to know what Harlem in the 20s was like then this tells you nothing. Alot of name dropping and moving from place to place. There's no plot, no characters, no description of Paris and Harlem in the 20s. One of his reviewers wrote: "Langston Hughes displays his unusual ability to say nothing in many words". I enjoyed a bit about working in Paris but that was 1h out of 10

Would you ever listen to anything by Langston Hughes and Arnold Rampersad again?

no

Which character – as performed by Dominic Hoffman – was your favourite?

Jocko the monkey was the most animated character. There were no characters

What character would you cut from The Big Sea?

Langston Hughes

Any additional comments?

To sum it up. You get no insight into the poet. It is not poetically written. It is just a list of places and menial jobs he did, people he met and occasionally poems he wrote.

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Profile Image for Faduma
  • Faduma
  • 01-19-16

I love this book

This is by far my favourite boom of all time. have read it on my own but Hoffman makes a great narrator. I love Hughs simple but poetic style and his sense of adventure.