I'm not sure I should get credit for this book. I only finished two of its three sections (about 60% of a 500+ page book) before the library seized it back. While it is a good book, it is a painful read.
The book follows the life of a young black man in Chicago around 1940. Segregation and racism are in full force. The corrosive nature of racism not only destroys the thinking of the racists themselves, but also the thinking of racism's victims, i.e. people like Bigger Thomas, the protagonist. His skewed perceptions cause him to make a number of bad decisions. Basically reading this book is like reading about a looooong, sloooow train wreck. Just when you think things can't sink lower, they do. It's inexorable. Very depressing, and I'm not fully convinced that some 70 years later, we're not still dealing with many of the same skewed perceptions and behaviors.