Contributions by Robert J. Butler, Ginevra Geraci, Yoshinobu Hakutani, Floyd W. Hayes III, Joseph Keith, Toru Kiuchi, John Lowe, Sachi Nakachi, Virginia Whatley Smith, and John Zheng.
Critics in this volume reassess the prescient nature of Richard Wright's mind as well as his life and body of writings, especially those directly concerned with America and its racial dynamics. This edited collection offers new readings and understandings of the particular America that became Wright's focus at the beginning of his career and was still prominent in his mind at the end.Virginia Whatley Smith's edited collection examines Wright's fixation with America at home and from abroad: his oppression by, rejection of, conflict with, revolts against, and flight from America. Other people have written on Wright's revolutionary heroes, his difficulties with the FBI, and his works as a postcolonial provocateur; but none have focused singly on his treatment of America. Wherever Wright traveled, he always positioned himself as an African American as he compared his experiences to those at hand.
However, as his domestic settlements changed to international residences, Wright's craftsmanship changed as well. To convey his cultural message, Wright created characters, themes, and plots that would expose arbitrary and whimsical American policies, oppressive rules which would invariably ensnare Wright's protagonists and sink them more deeply into the quagmire of racial subjugation as they grasped for a fleeting moment of freedom.
Smith's collection brings to the fore new ways of looking at Wright, particularly his post-Native Son international writings. Indeed, no critical interrogations have considered the full significance of Wright's masterful crime fictions. In addition, the author's haiku poetry complements the fictional pieces addressed here, reflecting Wright's attitude toward America as he, near the end of his life, searched for nirvana-his antidote to American racism.