Manchild In The Promised Land
by Claude Brown
- A Top 10 Book in the “Urban Fiction Books – Pre 1999” Category
- Voted #79 of the Top 100 Books of the 20th Century
- Selected for 1 Book Club’s Reading List
- A QBR 100 Essential Black Book
Publication Date: Dec 27, 2011
List Price: $17.00
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Parent Company: CBS Corporation
Since it’s release in 1965 Manchild is the 2nd best selling book ever published by Macmillan (over 4 million copies as of 2000)
During his first year at Howard University, Claude Brown wrote an article for the magazine Dissent about growing up in Harlem. The piece attracted the attention of a publisher, who encouraged him to write his autobiography. The result, Manchild in the Promised Land, traces Claude Brown’s own transformation from a hardened, streetwise young criminal to a successful, self-made man.
This autobiographical novel, in print for more than thirty years, has been widely praised for its portrayal of the "lost" generation of African-Americans whose parents left the sharecropping lifestyle of the South for the crowded inner cities of the North.
"I said, ’So what?’ as if I didn’t care. But I cared. I had to care. that was the first time I had seen Mama crying like that. She was just standing there by herself, not moving, not making a sound as if she didn’t even know it was cold out there. The sun was shining, but it was cold and there was ice on the ground. The tears just kept rolling down Mama’s face as the bus started to pull away from the curb. I had to care. Those tears shining on Mama’s face were falling for me. When the bus started down the street, I wanted to run back and say something to Mama. I didn’t know what. I thought, maybe I woulda said, "Mama, I didn’t mean what I said, ’cause I really do care." No, I wouldn’t say that. I woulda said, "Mama, button up your coat. It’s cold out here." Yeah, that’s what I forgot to say to Mama."
From Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books
Manchild in the Promised Land is the story of the first generation of blacks who had left the South in search of a northern "promised land" of equality, abundance, and prosperity but found instead a vastly overcrowded and violent urban ghetto, a generation that went "from the fire into the frying pan."
"There was a tremendous difference in the way life was lived up North. There were too many people full of hate and bitterness crowded into a dirty, stinky, uncared-for, closet-sized section of a great city. The children of these disillusioned colored pioneers inherited the total lot of their parents,the disappointments, the anger. To add to their misery, they had little hope of deliverance. For where does one run to when he’s already in the promised land?" So begins Claude Brown’s literary masterwork.
Claude (Sonny boy) Brown wrote his extraordinary autobiography in his late twenties. At nine, he was a member of two notorious gangs who thrived on bullying and stealing. At eleven, he was sent to a school for "emotionally disturbed and deprived boys," where he stayed for two years; at fourteen, he was sent to a reformatory for the first of three times. In his mid-twenties, he would graduate from Howard University, and at thirty, he would start law school. Manchild in the Promised Land is the story of his life growing up in Harlem, to him a wondrous place where if you were quick, smart, and tough enough you could live, for a while, like a king or die like a pauper.
- Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / General
- Biography & Autobiography / Literary Figures
- Fiction / A Man’s Man Literature
- Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies