Ralph Elllison's Invisible Man is a monumental novel, one that can well be called an epic of modern American Negro life. It is a strange story, in which many extraordinary things happen, some of them shocking and brutal, some of them pitiful and touching--yet always with elements of comedy and irony and burlesque that appear in unexpected places. It is a book that has a great deal to say and which is destined to have a great deal said about it.
After a brief prologue, the story begins with a terrifying experience of the hero's high school days, moves quickly to the campus of a Southern Negro college and then to New York's Harlem, where most of the action takes place. The many people that the hero meets in the course of his wanderings are remarkably various, complex and significant. With them he becomes involved in an amazing series of adventures, in which he is sometimes befriended but more often deceived and betrayed--as much by himself and his own illusions as by the duplicity of the blindness of others.
Invisible Man is not only a great triumph of storytelling and characterization; it is a profound and uncompromising interpretation of the Negro's anomalous position in American society.
"'Invisible Man' holds such an honored place in African-American literature that Ralph Ellison didn't have to write anything else to break bread with the remembered dead."
Darryl Pinckney, New York Review of Books, 05/15/1997
"A book of the very first order....[A] superb book....[W]hat a great thing it is when a brilliant individual victory occurs, like Mr. Ellison's, proving that a truly heroic quality can exist among our contemporaries."
Saul Bellow, Commentary, June 1952