Author: Richard Wright
Even though its set way back in the 1930s, Richard Wright's powerful, crucial novel Native Son is fully capable of resonating with tremendous force when read in today's society. The protagonist, a black Chicago resident named Bigger Thomas, kills a white lady in an impulsive mistake of a reaction, and, naturally, he's on his way to the big house. But Wright, who held a Ph.D in biology from Harvard before passing away in 1960, doesn't paint Thomas as a villanous scoundrel; rather, the character is a tragic representation of inner city oppression.
Fun Fact: Wright loosely based Native Son on the real-life case of Robert Nixon, a black serial killer from Louisiana who was executed by electric chair in 1939.