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Publisher's Summary

The Man Who Lived Underground reminds us that any ‘greatest writers of the 20th century’ list that doesn’t start and end with Richard Wright is laughable. It might very well be Wright’s most brilliantly crafted, and ominously foretelling, book.” (Kiese Laymon)

A major literary event: an explosive, previously unpublished novel about race and violence in America by the legendary author of Native Son and Black Boy.

Fred Daniels, a Black man, is picked up by the police after a brutal double murder and tortured until he confesses to a crime he did not commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from custody and flees into the city’s sewer system.

This is the devastating premise of this scorching novel, a never-before-seen masterpiece by Richard Wright. Written between his landmark books Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945), at the height of his creative powers, it would see publication in Wright's lifetime only in drastically condensed and truncated form, and ultimately be included in the posthumous short story collection Eight Men (1961). Now, for the first time, by special arrangement with the author’s estate, the full text of the work that meant more to Wright than any other (“I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration”) is published in the form that he intended, complete with his companion essay, “Memories of My Grandmother”. Malcolm Wright, the author’s grandson, contributes an afterword.

©2020 Richard Wright (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Man Who Lived Underground

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
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If you enjoy the author Richard Wright...

This is an excellent book by Richard Wright. The story is unique but all too familiar when we discuss policing problems. Interesting discussions on faith. Although the protagonist seems to abandon his faith, never give up your faith in the Savior Jesus Christ. Wright’s discussion on surrealism is informative and educational.

28 people found this helpful

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Profound important and a very good read

The Man Who Lived Underground is one of the most important books of my lifetime...perhaps it will strike you that way also.

23 people found this helpful

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interesting piece

a little difficult to get into at first but I enjoyed it overall. the reader was adequate but not very engaging and a little on the dull side. I mean Richard Wright is a bit of a downer already so I would think the reader should breath a little more life into the character somehow. I could be reaching though as he did do a decent job with the voices.

19 people found this helpful

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Must read

Richard wright at one point was considered the Premier black author of the United States. This new found unabridged manuscript is coupled with memories of his grandmother and also a very insightful after word by Malcolm wright. the writing is authentic and continues to be amazingly relevant 80 years later

16 people found this helpful

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I love it when I can see and feel the emotions.

I enjoyed this book, and it was performed very well. The summary was chock-full of information regarding how Richard Wright thought and came to write this particular story. I will listen to more of his books.

15 people found this helpful

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wonderful book

My first book by the author. Will definitely read it again. Enjoyable after almost 80 years.

14 people found this helpful

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Did not enjoy at all.

Struggled to finish this book. With all the good reviews, I was shocked at how bad it was. Don't bother.

2 people found this helpful

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Not a easy book to listen to.

If you want to be depressed, this book is for you. I would not recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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Richard Wright's Gifts Keep On Giving

I love this book in so many ways and on so many levels. The fact that this talented author writes a story some-80 years ago and still hits the bullseye for today's time, is a stroke of genius. I love the 3 parts of this novel that are masterpieces on their own and to bring them together was entertaining and suspenseful. It kept me hooked; I read it in a day.

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Good for you

I can’t say that I enjoy this type of story because it is at least in part about how awful life can be. It is fully interesting. I got a new perspective on being a reader by listening to the author’s comments. The comments are interesting both coming from a black man and from an author.