LOA Live: A conversation with Julia Wright, Malcolm Wright, and Kiese Laymon
Readings by André Holland
April 15, 2021—Richard Wright’s daughter Julia Wright and grandson Malcolm Wright join bestselling author Kiese Laymon for a special program to mark Library of America’s release of a previously unpublished novel about race and police violence by a great American writer at the height of his powers.
Richard Wright wrote The Man Who Lived Underground in the 1940s just after Native Son. He considered it his finest work—but American publishers wouldn’t touch it. It tells the story of Fred Daniels, a Black man framed by the police for a double murder. Brutally beaten until he confesses, Daniels escapes into the city’s sewer system, initiating an uncanny underworld journey into the dark heart of American life.
In this special LOA Live presentation, Malcolm Wright—who contributes an insightful afterword to the novel—discusses his lifelong fascination with his grandfather’s vision and its inescapable relevance to today. Joining him are his mother Julia Wright, the driving force behind this historic publication, and, from Wright’s hometown Jackson, Mississippi, acclaimed novelist and memoirist Kiese Laymon. Actor André Holland contributes two prerecorded readings from The Man Who Lived Underground.
Presented in partnership with the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers, Harper Perennial, the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Studio Museum in Harlem