Ann Petry's best-selling first novel, The Street, is the tragic
story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her
struggle to live decently and raise her son amidst the violence, poverty,
desperation, and racial discord of Harlem in the late 1940s.
Lutie's marriage falls apart after she takes a job as a live-in
nanny and maid in Connecticut, leaving her husband, Jim, and
her son behind. When Lutie finds out that Jim "has taken up
with another woman," she packs up her son and her things and
moves out. She eventually ends up on 116th Street, signing the
lease on the only apartment she can afford: three rooms in a
building with narrow dark halls and prying, noisy neighbors.
Often compared to Richard Wright's Native Son for its stark
despair, The Street was the first book by an African American
female writer to sell over one million copies.
"One of the masterpieces of Black fiction...the fortunate republication of The Street will return this fine novelist to the critical ranks of major 20th-century writers." -- National Public Radio
From the Publisher
"A major literary invention . . . A truly great book." The Los Angeles Times
"Overflows with the classic pity and terror of good imaginative writing." The New York Times
"A powerful, uncompromising work of social criticism. To this day, few works of fiction have so clearly illuminated the devastating impact of racial injustice." -- Coretta Scott King
"A classic of American realism . . . The Street rushes toward its fatalistic climax like a train toward a washed-out bridge." Newsday