May 092004
Authors: Sarah Fallik

This summer, instead of allowing your brain to turn to complete

mush, (a sensation which I for one have experienced during many

summers) why not pick up a book and give your brain the exercise it

needs to stay in shape for fall semester?

One great summer read is “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison.

“Invisible Man” is an exceptional novel, but it is not, as might be

inferred from the title, a work of science fiction. Rather, it is a

book that tells the story of a black man’s struggle for personal

identity and societal acceptance during a time of blatant and

widespread racism. This novel, written in 1952 and set sometime

during the years following the Great Depression, is worthy of your


The narrator begins his tale with the assertion that he is an

invisible man and then traces a series of events and experiences

that lead to realization of his invisibility. His journey toward

self-actualization begins in the South. When he arrives, he is

blind to the racism that surrounds him and does not realize his

place as an black person in a prejudiced society.

After a few diverse jobs, he encounters an organization called

the “Brotherhood,” a fusion of Caucasian and black people bonded

together in the fight for social change. The Brotherhood gives the

narrator a new identity and hires him to make speeches in Harlem.

Throughout the novel, the narrator is in an ongoing state of change

as he is handed new identities, which he must adopt.

Ellison’s first and only completed novel, at close to 600 pages,

engages the reader throughout. As a rather fast and satisfying

read, it is a great choice for summer reading. “Invisible Man” is

rich with symbolism and metaphord, so that the Ellison’s essential

message and intent is clear, yet space is left for interpretation

and analysis. The book is likely to evoke a range of emotional

responses from its readers, but it promises to grab hold and not

let go for the duration. “Invisible Man” recounts experiences and

events that are certainly disturbing; however, this is among the

most profound and remarkable novels I have read.

Other recommended summer reading:

“White Oleander” by Janet Fitch

The story of one girl’s coming of age within the circumstances

of her mother’s imprisonment and constant moves from foster home to

foster home.

“Junky” by William Burroughs

If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to be a heroin addict,

this novel will spell it out for you.

“Warrior’s Don’t Cry” by Melba Beals

A historical account of the integration of Little Rock’s Central

High school.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K Rowling

No, these novels are not just for kids! Pick up the first novel

and I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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