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Extended Audio Sample The Street, by Ann Petry Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,647 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ann Petry Narrator: Nicole Smal Publisher: Buck 50 Productions Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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As much a historical document as it is a novel, this 1946 winner of the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award is the poignant and unblinkingly honest story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her spirited struggle to live and raise her son by herself amid the violence, poverty, and racial dissonance of Harlem in the late 1940s.

Originally published in 1946 and hailed by critics as a masterwork, The Street was Ann Petry’s first novel, a beloved bestseller with more than a million copies in print. Its haunting tale still resonates today.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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, American author, activist, and civil rights leader

  • “A classic of American realism…The Street rushes toward its fatalistic climax like a train toward a washed-out bridge.”


  • “Overflows with the classic pity and terror of good imaginative writing.”

    New York Times

  • “A major literary invention…A truly great book.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Years ago Ann Petry brought the world to its feet with the artistry…in this painfully honest and wrenching novel. Once again a standing ovation is due for this American classic.”

    Gloria Naylor

  • Winner of the 1946 Houghton Mifflin Literary Award Fellowship Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Regina | 2/17/2014

    " Completely undervalued work. Petry is comparable to Virginia Wolfe in detail, and a master of emotion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Angela | 2/14/2014

    " All I have to say is this - if at any time you feel the need to stop reading this book - keep reading! The end of the book was sooo sad, I just didn't see it turning out that way. That's all I'm saying... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Matt | 2/2/2014

    " This book definitely has some problems--there's a sort of repetition of the same details over and over without giving them any new meaning that drove me crazy for a while--but it's also pretty devastating and made me cry, which is really the criterion by which I judge most books. And the social criticism as nearly as applicable today as it was when Petry wrote the book 60 years ago. Scary. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Mary Ellen | 2/1/2014

    " I really liked this book about a black woman with a son trying to make it on her own. "

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About the Author
Author Ann Petry

Ann Petry (1908–1997) was an American author who became the first African American woman writer with book sales topping a million copies for her novel The Street. She first studied pharmacy, and upon receiving her PhG in 1931, she worked as a pharmacist in her family’s drugstores in Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, Connecticut. During these years she wrote several short stories. When she married George David Petry in 1938, the course of her life changed. They moved to New York, and Ann wrote articles for Harlem’s Amsterdam News. By 1941 she was covering general news stories and editing the women’s pages of the People’s Voice in Harlem. Her first published story appeared in 1943 in the Crisis, a magazine published monthly by the NAACP. Afterward she began work on her first novel—The Street, published in 1946—for which she received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. She wrote two more novels, The Country Place and The Narrows, and numerous short stories, articles, and children’s books. She was also appointed visiting professor of English at the University of Hawaii and lectured widely throughout the United States.