Richard Wright's 'The Man Who Lived Underground' To Be Posthumously Published A complete version of the Richard Wright novel The Man Who Lived Underground is being published for the first time. It centers on police brutality and the Black experience in America.
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Richard Wright's 'The Man Who Lived Underground' To Be Posthumously Published

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Richard Wright's 'The Man Who Lived Underground' To Be Posthumously Published

Richard Wright's 'The Man Who Lived Underground' To Be Posthumously Published

Richard Wright's 'The Man Who Lived Underground' To Be Posthumously Published

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A complete version of the Richard Wright novel The Man Who Lived Underground is being published for the first time. It centers on police brutality and the Black experience in America.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Eighty years ago, Richard Wright was America's leading Black author. His debut novel, "Native Son," was a best-seller. But when he turned in a manuscript for his new book, his publisher, Harper & Brothers, said no.

JOHN KULKA: We can certainly say that the book was too hot to handle.

KING: That's John Kulka, the editorial director at the Library of America.

KULKA: This novel would have been problematic for Harper & Brothers with its graphic depiction of police brutality against a Black man.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Today, the library is releasing a complete version of the book for the first time. It's called "The Man Who Lived Underground." And it tells the story of a Black man named Fred Daniels, who is framed for a double homicide. The book deals explicitly with white-on-Black violence. Richard Wright's daughter Julia told us that idea was unacceptable to white audiences in the 1940s.

JULIA WRIGHT: I read those pages, and then it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

KING: And she says there's something eerie about the novel being published now.

WRIGHT: The brutality of the police against George Floyd and the brutality described by Richard Wright against Fred Daniels - it is unbearable.

KING: She says she believes the country still needs to hear these truths.

(SOUNDBITE OF AHMAD JAMAL'S "PAPILLON")

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