The Man Who Lived Underground: A Novel

Richard Wright

The door of the police car swung open quickly and the man behind the steering wheel stepped out; immediately, as though following in a prearranged signal, the other two policemen stepped out and the three of them advanced and confronted him. They patted his clothing from his head to his feet.

“What’s your name?” asked the policeman who had been called Lawson.

“Fred Daniels, sir.”

“Ever been in trouble before, boy?” Lawson said.

“No, sir.”

“Where you think you’re going now?”

“I’m going home.”

“Where you live?”

“On East Canal, sir.”

“Who you live with?”

“My wife.” 

Lawson turned to the policeman who stood at his right. “We’d better drag ’im in, Johnson.”

“But, Mister!” he protested in a high whine. “I ain’t done nothing . . .”

“All right, now,” Lawson said. “Don’t get excited.”

“My wife’s having a baby . . .”

“They all say that. Come on,” said the red-headed man who had been called Johnson.

A spasm of outrage surged in him and he snatched backward, hurling himself away from them. Their fingers tightened about his wrists, biting into his flesh; they pushed him toward the car.

“Want to get tough, hunh?”

“No, sir,” he said quickly.

“Then get in the car, Goddammit!”

He stepped into the car and they shoved him into the seat; two of the policemen sat at either side of him and hooked their arms in his. Lawson got behind the steering wheel. But, strangely, the car did not start. He waited, alert but ready to obey.

“Well, boy,” Lawson began in a slow, almost friendly tone, “looks like you’re in for it, hunh?”

Lawson’s enigmatical voice made hope rise in him.

“Mister, I ain’t done nothing,” he said. “You can ask Mrs. Wooten” back there. She just paid me off and I was on my way home . . .” His words sounded futile and he tried another approach. “Look, Mister, I’m a member of the White Rock Baptist Church. If you don’t believe me, call up Reverend Davis . . .”

“Got it all figured out, ain’t you, boy?”

“No, sir,” he said, shaking his head emphatically. “I’m telling the truth . . . “

A series of questions made him hopeful again.

“What’s your wife’s name?”

“Rachel, sir.”

“When is this baby going to be born?”

“Any minute now, sir.”

“Who’s with your wife?”

“My cousin, Ruby.”

“Uh huh,” Lawson said, with slow thoughtfulness.

“I think he’ll do, Lawson,” said the tall, raw-boned policeman who had not spoken before. 

Lawson laughed and started the motor. 




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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


Einband gebundene Ausgabe
Seitenzahl 240
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-1-59853-676-8
Verlag Penguin Random House
Maße (L/B/H) 21.3/14.3/2.5 cm
Gewicht 404 g
Verkaufsrang 4242


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