African-American Literature · book review · Clutch Magazine List · non-fiction

Lorraine Hansberry Was A Genius


A Raisin in the Sun

Written By Lorraine Hansberry

Published 1959 By RandomHouse

160 Pages

Lorraine Hansberry was an American playwright born in Chicago IL, in 1930. She is most well-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun which tells the story of a black family and their struggles living in Chicago in the fifties.  That sounds like it’s a simple thing and it kind of is bu,t there are many layers to it as well.  When I started A Raisin in the Sun I kept thinking why did it take me so long to get to it. When I finished it I was actually happy that I had waited. I’m not sure if my past self would have gotten the significance of it even 5 years ago. Although maybe if I had read it at 17 or 18 it would have done something to me. I don’t know, either way it is something I will read again maybe several times. I imagine it’s the kind of work that you get more from every-time you read it. The family in the play is black and so much of what they go through is because they are black and because of the time, but they are still people that anyone can relate to in some way.


To Be Young, Gifted and Black

Written By Lorraine Hansberry

Adapted By Robert Nemiroff

Published 1969 By Signet

272 Pages

After picking up A Raisin in the Sun I heard that a possible movie based on Hansberry’s life was in the works.  The article mentioned that the amazing Issa Rae was maybe going to play Hansberry but I don’t know if that’s a done deal. No matter what, if Rae is attached it should be good. When I heard about this possible movie I decided to move Hansberry’s book To Be Young Gifted and Black to the top of the list.  To Be Young Gifted and Black is another book on the Clutch Magazine list that I am slowly making my way through. This is an autobiography written in the form of letters, notes, interviews and correspondence to and from her, small pieces of her plays and, photos, and drawings.  I loved the way this book was set up it’s not a typical autobiography but I think that works to its advantage. You get to see Hansberry through her work and her life in a way that a regular bio just wouldn’t allow. This was also adapted  for the stage in 1968 by her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff . She died in 1965 at the age of 34 after battling pancreatic cancer.  She left behind a real legacy and I can only imagine what other amazing things she would have done had she lived longer.


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