Invisible Man

Ranked #3 in Period, Ranked #4 in Illusionsee more rankings.

First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying "battle royal" where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist...

Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of Invisible Man from the world's leading experts.

Barack Obama Former USA PresidentAs a devoted reader, the president has been linked to a lengthy list of novels and poetry collections over the years — he admits he enjoys a thriller. (Source)

Jacqueline Novogratz I read it as a 22-year-old, and it made me think deeply about how society doesn’t “see” so many of its members. (Source)

Dan Barreiro Riveting time capsule material. Literary giant Ellison on the blues, on race, on his powerful book, Invisible Man. (Source)

Seth Mandel @EricColumbus A great choice and undeniably important book. Wish it were taught more. (Source)

Daegan Miller The novel pinpoints relentlessly, and beautifully, the environment of exploitation. (Source)

Farah Jasmine Griffin It engages a number of literary traditions—the high modernism of Joyce, Eliot and Pound, but also Dostoevsky and Marx. It’s filled with allusions to African American folklore, folk culture and history. It’s just a rich and dynamic novel. (Source)

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