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Native Son | [Richard Wright]

Native Son

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.
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Publisher's Summary

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.

Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

©1993 Ellen Wright; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (173 )
5 star
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4.1 (114 )
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Story
4.5 (109 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Noah New York, New York 11-11-10
    Noah New York, New York 11-11-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Simply a classic"

    Native Son is an expertly-written thriller about crime and race and misguided ambition, read by one of the best narrators I have ever heard. It is, however, a very difficult book to listen to, as it deals hyper-realistically with the tragic life of a young black man who has all the potential in the world and ends up throwing it away because of the hate, ignorance, and prejudice that society has instilled in him. I have almost never come across such a believable protagonist; Bigger Thomas' story is the story of many, many angry young men out there in the world. The book struggles with issues of individual vs. societal responsibility, racism, interpersonal relations, and the moral nature of humanity, and never gives the reader any easy answers.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Sun Prairie, WI, United States 08-21-10
    Patrick Sun Prairie, WI, United States 08-21-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    47
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    10
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    "excellent!"

    Great Narrator!! Switches voices between characters in a very convincing manner. Heartbreaking and terrifying story. Spellbound.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alison 06-01-09
    alison 06-01-09

    "Hi My name is Ali and I'm an Audible addict." "Hi Ali!"

    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
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    "Wow!"

    This is such a great story! It is also very disturbing, the antihero, Bigger, will make the wrong choice every time and as a reader your saying "Oh no don't do that!" or "I can't believe..." It's a story that will make you heartsick and get a glimpse of the black experience.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 07-08-12
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 07-08-12 Member Since 2007

    notthe1

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Listen to this while you read Erasure"

    Try this for a great combo: Listen to Native Son as an audio book while simultaneously reading Percival Everett’s Erasure. Even though the books are set fifty years apart, and some things have changed profoundly in this country in the intervening years in terms of race relations, I was astounded at how much has not changed. The protagonists of the two books are both black men in America. Native Son’s Bigger Thomas is an uneducated, poor, thuggish young man trying to get by in the segregated Chicago of the 1940s. Erasure’s protagonist, Monk Ellison, (note to self: re-read Ellison’s Invisible Man next) is a current-day university professor from a wealthy family that gave him every advantage imaginable. Despite these surface differences, both men’s lives are severely limited by the strictures and expectations placed on them by their respective time periods. And although Native Son was overlong and preachy, I found that the injustices depicted in the book echoed in Erasure, as they do in the everyday lives of many Black Americans. African American males still have much higher rates of unemployment than any other group of Americans—worse even than the employment rate of white felons. Black males in America are less likely to graduate from high school, more likely to be arrested, and more likely to go to prison. Native Son lays these and other injustices bare . . . if only we could say we had erased these problems in the years since it was written.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorothy Anchorage, AK 06-27-12
    Dorothy Anchorage, AK 06-27-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Now I will get the Jeopardy! question"

    I confess that the motivation behind purchasing this audiobook was so that I had another 20th century classic in my arsenal for Jeopardy! I bought this without researching the plot. I only knew that it was about black v. white and that it is frequently considered one of the must-reads in African American Lit. I think it's good to listen to this story without knowing anything about the plot. It makes the twists and turns more surprising.

    The performance by the narrator was fantastic. There were no fake voices or falsettos. It was just the narrator with a powerful voice and he was a perfect match. I'm not sure I would like this book as much if I read it on the page. The audio made it a performance. I buy audiobooks in order to entice myself to go to the gym more. I rely on the book to be interesting enough for me to want to listen and thus go workout. This story delivered.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 12-15-12
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 12-15-12 Member Since 2005

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Classic"

    I somehow missed this book in high school and college and even in law school. But I am glad I finally got to it. It is a stark tale of race relations and "justice" in the early days of segregation that, sadly, has not changed enough to make the story a remote portrait of how it used to be in the United States. While clearly we do not like in the same openly racist society as the characters in the book, the inequalities for people of color in our justice system persist, though to a lesser extent, today.

    at least we have moved away from the time that a judge can sentence someone to death and have that sentence carried out within months. The book is a dichotomy of a picture of how far we have come and not come at the same time. I am glad I read it.

    Also a dear friend once told me that he always held Boris Max as one of his legal heroes. I can see why. He is a great portrayal of what it means to truly be a defense attorney. He was committed and fought for his client, who was difficult to fight for, all the way to the end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 09-03-12
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 09-03-12 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Classic Delivered Perfectly"
    What made the experience of listening to Native Son the most enjoyable?

    I enjoyed every aspect of this book. The writing, story and delivery are flawless. This book stands stark against the majority of books pumped out. Just as I was getting tired of my Audible account, comes this masterpiece.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Native Son?

    The tension throughout is memorable. Best book for tension since Cime and Punishment.


    Have you listened to any of Peter Francis James’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I wanted to savor, absorb and enjoy the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jennifer BROOKLYN, NY, United States 06-30-14
    jennifer BROOKLYN, NY, United States 06-30-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "fantastic"

    This book somehow manages to be a classic AND a page-turner. Delivers a very diffcult, important commentary. A necessary read as well as an enjoyable one, with a great plot and fast-paced drama (except for the overlong court scene which could have been whittled down some). Fantastic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Redondo Beach, CA, United States 11-27-12
    Anthony Redondo Beach, CA, United States 11-27-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Brilliant performance!"
    What made the experience of listening to Native Son the most enjoyable?

    I was astounded by Mr. James' ability to flawlessly weave in and out of very different and complex characters. Brilliant voice work. Made the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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