Winner of the 1953 National Book Award
“I am invisible,” the narrator of Ralph Ellison’s award-winning novel explains, “simply because people refuse to see me.” Full of irony and wit and jazz-like music, Invisible Man addresses race, identity, individuality, and betrayal. It is the book on which President Obama modeled his own Dreams From My Father. Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.
"With this book the author maps a course from the underground world into the light. Invisible Man belongs on the shelf with the classical efforts man has made to chart the river Lethe from its mouth to its source." The New York Times Book Review, Wright Morris
"The Negro American experience...is indispensable to any profoundly American depiction of reality...This background provides the black writer with much to write about. As fictional material it rivals that of the nineteenth-century Russians." Ralph Ellison
"A book of the very first order, a superb book." Saul Bellow
"Unquestionably, Ellison's book is a work of extraordinary intensity powerfully imagined and written with a savage, wryly humorous gusto." Atlantic Monthly
"Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man, a work often cited as the American novel of its time." William Corbett, Author of New York Literary Lights
"Invisible Man is an essential book, whether read as an intriguing coming-of-age story, an incisive portrait of an individual's quest for identity, or a powerful indictment of the absurdity of racism that remains fresh and relevant today. Ellison's stylish prose speaks to the individual and collective need to acquire self-knowledge, self-definition, self-illuminationto become visible to ourselves." Sacred Fire
About the Author
Ralph Ellison was born in Okalahoma and trained as a musician at Tuskegee Institute from 1933 to 1936, at which time a visit to New York and a meeting with Richard Wright led to his first attempts at fiction. Invisible Man won the National Book Award and the Russwurm Award. Appointed to the Academy of American Arts and Letters in 1964, Ellison taught at many colleges including Bard College, the University of Chicago, and New York University where he was Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities from 1970 through 1980. Ralph Ellison died in 1994.