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Summer Reading 2017: Invisible Man

Find the book you want to read this summer!

This book is...

A classic novel of identity, absurdity, and race in America. 

About the book

Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison

"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.”

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.

Applicable categories for the Urban Read Harder Challenge:

Fight for your right

For fans of

  • Classic novels
  • "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen 
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston 
  • Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  • Reading
  • The Urban School
  • Fulfillment and self-actualization
  • Iced coffee

About the reader

Zachary Ngin, Library Leader