Next Up: Invisible Man
This will be my second time through Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man–not to be confused with The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.
I last read the novel back in college, about 13 years ago. And I remember really enjoying Ralph Ellison’s writing style and the experimental style of the novel.
For starters, the protagonist in Invisible Man is unnamed. This is fitting, since the book is a statement on the identity of African-Americans in the early 20th century. It’s a story of searching and trying to fit in amidst a culture that considers you a second-rate citizen, even a sideshow.
Some quick facts about Invisible Man and Ralph Ellison:
- Published in 1952, Invisible Man was Ralph Ellison’s first novel.
- The novel won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953.
- In addition to appearing on the Time list, Invisible Man was ranked 19th on the Modern Library list of 100 best English language novels of the 20th Century.
- The infamous “battle royal” scene that opens the novel was actually published four years before the novel’s publication.
- Ellison was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson.
- He was contemporaries with James Baldwin and Richard Wright, two other prominent African-American writers.
What does Time say?
Evenhandedly exposing the hypocrisies and stereotypes of all comers, Invisible Man is far more than a race novel, or even a bildungsroman. It’s the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century.
Picaresque, huh? Time, you stole the words right out of my mouth.
So there you go. Invisible Man on deck.
I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve really enjoyed some of the civil rights themed novels I’ve read so far (Native Son, Beloved, Go Tell It On The Mountain, To Kill A Mockingbird), so I don’t expect this to be much different.
Any thoughts on Invisible Man?