November 29, 2021 8:16 AM EST

In this never-before-published novel from Richard Wright, the late author of literary classics Native Son and Black Boy, a Black man named Fred Daniels is stopped by police on his way home from work and, within hours, is tortured into a confession for a double homicide he didn’t commit. Somewhere in the transfer of custody, he escapes into a manhole, and thus begins his life in the sewers. It’s a depressingly relevant story, no less believable now 80 years after it was written, and while Daniels learns to survive under the city—stealing food and random, unnecessary goods via passages into the buildings above him—his interior world is overcome with ruminations on existence, identity and culpability. The Man Who Lived Underground is a masterpiece.

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