Richard Wright’s 1940 novel, Native Son is being brought to the big screen! Suzan-Lori Parks is writing the screenplay and the project will be directed by visual artist Rashid Johnson. Parks was the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her play, Topdog/Underdog, she won the MacArthur Genius Grant, and wrote the screenplays for Spike Lee’s Girl 6 and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Johnson was recently appointed to the Guggenheim Foundation & Museum’s board of trustees and his work focuses on “complexity and contradictions” of the racialized experience.
Rashid Johnson & Suzan-Lori Parks
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Native Son attracted some critics, namely, James Baldwin, who published Notes of a Native Son. He called the book stereotypical as it focuses on a negative view of Bigger Thomas, a black man in Chicago. The novel is broken into three parts: “Fear,” “Flight,” and “Fate.” Bigger Thomas is convicted of two crimes and sentenced to the electric chair, but throughout the story, you understand the personal and external issues that affect Bigger.
Personally, Native Son is one of my favorite novels. Yes, it is stereotypical and harsh, but it brings to light injustices and the struggle to beat a society that is structurally against you.
Rashid Johnson told ArtNet News, “It just stayed on my mind…the idea of an incredibly complicated black character and investigating his incredibly difficult… circumstances in a world that was also kind of pitted against him.”
No release date has been announced for Native Son, but this is a book you need to read before the film comes out.
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