Anyone who has read Richard Wright's Black Boy knows it to be one of the great American autobiographies. Covering Wright's early life in the South, the book concludes with his departure in 1934 for a new life in the North. American Hunger (first published more than thirty years after the appearance of Black Boy) is the continuation of that story. A vital, richly anecdotal work, American Hunger treats with feeling and often with wry humor Wright's struggle to make his way in the North—in Chicago—as a store clerk, dishwasher, and eventually as a writer.
He deals movingly with his early days in the Communist Party and with his attempts to keep his integrity in the face of Party demands that he subordinate his artistic goals to its needs. And he recounts with a mixture of pain and irony his break with the Party and the tortured period of ostracism that followed. There is an unsettling and totally frank personal story here, and a lot of raw social history as well.