Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is an American classic. Right up there with Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Stylistically, it’s a virtuosic juggling of Kafka’s nightmarish hilarity and Dostoevsky’s chaotic psychological insight with a dash of the Oberiu and a healthy double dollop of the musical exuberance of Louis Armstrong’s work with the Hot Fives and Sevens. In terms of plot it is an African-American bildungsroman. Although the story is specific to the twentieth century black experience it is also a universal story. Probably anyone could relate to the Invisible Man’s struggle to assert his individuality within society, his grappling with personal identity and his struggle with the slippery net of memory. In fact, the whole time I was reading the novel I couldn’t help thinking that this is one of those rare novels that was speaking directly to me. No surprise then that the book ends with the narrator asking, “Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?”
I’m looking forward to reading this again.