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Virago Modern Classic Book Club: The Street – Ann Petry

The Street

Virago Book Club

We’re honouring Black History Month this October for our Virago Modern Classic Book Club, so join us for a read along of Ann Petry’s beautiful novel, The Street. This ground-breaking debut novel from Petry was first published in 1946 and takes a hard look at the reality of the American dream. This urgent and essential read is a truly great work of fiction.


New York City, 1940s. In a crumbling tenement in Harlem, Lutie Johnson is determined to build a new life for herself and her eight-year-old boy, Bub – a life that she can be proud of. Having left her unreliable husband, Lutie believes that with hard work and resolve, she can begin again; she has faith in the American dream. But in her struggle to earn money and raise her son amid the violence, poverty and racial dissonance of her surroundings, Lutie is soon trapped: she is a woman alone, ‘too good-looking to be decent’, with predators at every turn.


Ann Petry (1908-1997) was an American journalist and author. This book, her debut novel, was the first book by a black woman to sell more than a million copies.