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The Literary Career In Richard Wright’s Black Boy Essay

The beginning of Mathabane’s literary career sparked a hunger when he came across a book titled “Black Boy, Richard Wright’s searing autobiography” in the Quincy College library. (Mathabane 3-78) This led him to read just about all the books written by black authors. In turn, this spark stood dimly lit until he arrived at Dowling College. He “volunteered to become the first black editor of the college newspaper, The Lion’s Voice. ” (Mathabane 3-103)He started out alone, writing the whole paper himself though he had people help with the printing. Eventually a couple of students joined with him in writing the paper.

Still toiling with what he wanted to do after graduation, he came upon a man named John Rather, who suggested attending the newspaper recruitment fair in the area. Despite having a good outcome from the fair, however, he still had this burning desire; though he could not put his finger on it. After reading many books on how to become a publisher and other works by “South African writers” inflamed that spark to action. (Mathabane 3-134) He started to write his memoir. Eventually he received an introduction to individuals who brought his transcript to editors.

Shortly afterward his manuscript went to auction and awarded a $35,000 bid. He finished writing 350 pages of his book and then had to edit the information to be more explanatory. Eventually he rewrote his story. ““Kaffir Boy” entered publication and circulation with Mathabane going on a publicity tour. Interviews and appearance on talk’s shows happened next. Despite this, sales were poor and reviews were not glowing. In fact, many classrooms banned the book. Life came back to the book when Reader’s Digest Condensed Books was interested which prompted New American Library to buy the rights also.

In July 1986, sales of his book increased again when an article he wrote appeared in People magazine. His appearance on the Oprah show spawned his book as “a nationwide best-seller… reaching third place on The New York Time best seller list… with more than 200,000 copies sold. “(Mathabane 3-279) It rose to No. 1 on the Washington Post bestsellers list. “(Facebook) The book also won the Christopher Award in 1986 and achieved status as one of the finalists for the 1987 Robert Kennedy Memorial Award. “(Mathabane 3-279) Publication went internationally including several languages except it was not published in South Africa.

Despite the classroom ban, the book eventually landed “on the American Library Association’s list of “Outstanding Books for the College-Bound. “(Facebook) Soon he was receiving offers to produce a movie. Mathabane’s first paid “article in the St. Petersburg Times… was about the 1984 Summer Olympics. ” His first speaking engagement was in May 1985 at the Spence School for girls. After the publication of his book “Kaffir Boy” he started to lecture more across campuses. During his journey, to his surprise, he was able to meet Maya Angelou, a famous black author.

He started writing articles about South Africa for the St. Petersburg Times as well as writing for Newsday and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mathabane had “won a writing and teaching fellowship in the graduate humanities program at Cornell University” (Mcdowell) that spanned 1987 – 1988. “Harpo Productions Inc. purchased the movie rights to Kaffir Boy in 1988. “(Mathabane) During this same time period he was at work on writing his next book. In 1990, Mathabane wrote an article in the U. S. News & Work Report, “An Embargo that Backfires” which “Mathabane explains why permitting one U. S export – the literature of freedom – could help his fellow South Africans in their struggle against Apartheid.

In 1992 he co-wrote a book with his wife Gail titled “Love in Black and White. ” This book chronicled life as an interracial couple in America. It entails their feelings before they met, to the struggles they have endured and overcome as a couple and as an interracial family with children. In 1993, Mathabane wrote an article for the New York Times tittled “Appearances Are Destructive. ” In this article he wrote about school culture in America is more geared to what the students wear and the struggles of students who do not fashionably fit in and school uniforms can diminished security concerns more than metal detectors and wands.

Much improvement can be achieved if “school dress codes are observed as part of creating the proper learning environment. ” (New York Times) Mathabane’s next book “African Women: Three Generations” published in 1994 writes about the struggle and hardships his grandmother, mother and sister Florah endure in South Africa. In 1996 Mathabane was selected to help implement “America Reads Challenge” initiated by President Clinton.

In 2010 Mathabane has another book published entitled “The Proud Liberal” which draws on his fourteen years living in the South along with additional research to write about racism and terrorism issues. Mathabane continues writing and has another book published entitled “Ubuntu” published in 2011. In this book he writes about the dark side of Apartheid that involves corruption and inhuman treatment and death squads that took place while incorporating the heroism expressed by both the white and black people. Mathabane’s literary career goes from award winning author, to lecturer and motivational speaker.

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