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  • Published: 6 June 2023
  • ISBN: 9781784877699
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $22.99

The Man Who Lived Underground

The ‘gripping’ New York Times Bestseller

Considered too damning of American society to be published, The Man Who Lived Underground is a pacy thriller taking readers through the racial injustices of America

The 'propulsive, haunting' and 'gripping' (Oprah) rediscovered classic that exposes the dark heart of America for an inncocent Black man on the run from the police

Fred Daniels, a black man, is picked up randomly by the police after a brutal murder in a Chicago neighbourhood and taken to the local precinct where he is tortured until he confesses to a crime he didn't commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from the precinct and takes up residence in the sewers below the streets of Chicago.

This is the simple, horrible premise of Richard Wright's scorching novel, The Man Who Lived Underground, a masterpiece written in the same period as his landmark books Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945) that he was unable to publish in his lifetime.

Now, for the first time, this incendiary novel about race and violence in America, 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 full, in the form that he intended.

  • Published: 6 June 2023
  • ISBN: 9781784877699
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Richard Wright

Richard Wright was born near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1908. As a child he lived in Memphis, Tennessee, then in an orphanage, and with various relatives. He left home at fifteen and returned to Memphis for two years to work, and in 1934 went to Chicago, where in 1935 he began to work on the Federal Writers' Project. He published Uncle Tom's Children in 1938 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the following year. His other titles include his autobiography, Black Boy (1945), and The Outsider (1953). After the war Richard Wright went to live in Paris with his wife and daughters, remaining there until his death in 1960.

Also by Richard Wright

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Praise for The Man Who Lived Underground

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

Publishers Weekly

Finally, this devastating inquiry into oppression and delusion, this timeless tour de force, emerges in full... This blazing literary meteor should land in every collection


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


More than any other Black writer, Richard Wright recognized that understanding Black folks' relationship to the police is central to understanding racism

New York Times

The Man Who Lived Underground is a masterpiece

Time Magazine

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

Wall Street Journal

Not just Wright's masterwork, but also a milestone in African American literature... The Man Who Lived Underground is one of those indispensable works that reminds all its readers that, whether we are in the flow of life or somehow separated from it, above- or belowground, we are all human


Propulsive, haunting... The graphic, gripping book ends with a revealing companion essay that further explains the themes of this searing novel

Oprah Daily

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 tale for today... [Wright's] restored novel feels wearily descriptive of far too many moments in contemporary America

New York Times

This is a significant work of literary fiction from a legendary author that's absolutely not to be missed

Book Riot