Food to be a big part of week

Published 12:13 am Sunday, February 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — Richard Wright, the famous writer born near Natchez in 1908, endured extreme hardships and poverty and often went hungry as a child and young adult, said his daughter, Julia Wright of Paris, France.

“My father was fascinated by food,” she said. “Scenes featuring food show up repeatedly in his books, including the autobiographical Black Boy.

“You remember, of course, the famous meal in Black Boy when his mother made soup and a big platter of fried chicken, and my father was so afraid the preacher would eat all the fried chicken.

Email newsletter signup

“For someone who had known true hunger,” she said, “food was an important part of my father’s life.”

Richard Wright went on to international fame as the author of such blockbusters as “Native Son,” “White Man Listen” and “Uncle Tom’s Children,” a collection of stories that has been chosen as Book of the Year for 2008 by the statewide “Mississippi Reads” project. After leaving Natchez, he lived in Jackson, Memphis, Chicago and New York before moving to Paris, where he died in 1960.

Wright’s favorite foods will be featured at a supper Thursday, sponsored by the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture at the Natchez Community Center. The dinner is a part of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration,

“We are delighted to know exactly what to serve at the annual NAPAC supper,” said Mary White, NAPAC’s committee chairman. “Chef Dale Wimberly has planned a menu based on Julia Wright’s recollection of her father’s favorite foods.”

Julia Wright, who will be keynote speaker at the NLCC at 11 a.m., Thursday, was asked for suggestions for the party’s menu.

“It was easy to build the party menu from Julia’s suggestions,” White said.

The party, set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, will also feature some of Richard Wright’s favorite jazz music, performed by vocalist and pianist JoAnne Smith of Port Gibson.

Tickets for the supper are $20, available by calling 601-446-1289 or toll-free, 866-296-6522.