The Street, By Ann Petry


0120200504Ann Petry's powerful novel about a single mother in 1940s Harlem. Read by Adjoa Andoh.

Ann Petry’s powerful, ground breaking novel set in 1940s Harlem tells the story of a single mother’s determination to make a better life for her son. Read by Adjoa Andoh.

Lutie Johnson lives with her eight year old son Bub in a few airless rooms at the top of a dark and grubby tenement building in Harlem. It’s the only place she can afford after leaving her cheating husband and quitting her job as a maid to a wealthy white family.

However, Lutie has faith in the American dream.

She believes that, if she works hard, studies hard and saves hard she can build a new life for herself and Bub, away from the violence and poverty that surrounds her. But as a young, single, black mother in 1944, her choices are limited - not only does she have to confront the racism of the white world that employs her, she’s also preyed upon by the men around her who find her good looks irresistible.

As she tries to keep her son safe and earn enough money to move away from the street that defines and traps them, Lutie finds herself faced with some brutal and painful decisions.

Ann Petry was one of America’s most distinguished writers. She lived in New York City, where she wrote short stories for young people, and worked as a journalist and editor for two Harlem newspapers. The Street was her first novel, published in 1946, and it was an immediate success, making Petry the first Black American novelist to sell over a million copies.

Reader: Adjoa Andoh

Abridger: Sara Davies

Producer: Celia de Wolff

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4