Reviews for Native Son

Library Journal Reviews 1999 March #1
After 58 years in print, Wright's Native Son has acquired classic status. It has not, however, lost its power to shock or provoke controversy. Bigger Thomas is a young black man in 1940s Chicago who accidentally kills the daughter of his wealthy white employer. He tries to frame the young woman's fiancÚ for the crime and attempts to extort ransom from the victim's family, but his guilt is discovered, and he is forced into hiding. After a terrifying manhunt, he is arrested and brought to trial. Though his fate is certain, he finds that his crimes have given meaning and energy to his previously aimless life, and he goes to his execution unrepentant. Wright avoids the trap of making his hero a martyr, for Bigger is a vicious and violent bully. But out of this tale the author develops a profoundly disturbing image of racism and its results that puts Bigger's experience in horrifying perspective. The unabridged recording includes material edited out of the original edition (Audio Reviews, LJ 10/15/98), including one major scene and some significant dialog. Peter Francis James's narration is thoughtful and polished but lacks intensity. When the text clearly demands an outburst of emotion, James repeatedly holds back, allowing the book's climaxes to drag by unrecognized. This recording will stand well until a better version appears. Recommended for all public libraries; librarians should be aware of extremely violent language and situations. John Owen, Advanced Micro Devices Lib., Santa Clara, CA Copyright 1999 Library Journal Reviews