“Invisible Man belongs on the shelf with the classical efforts man has made to chart the river Lethe from its mouth to its source.”—The New York Times Book Review

Ralph Ellison


Though Ralph Ellison was reluctant to acknowledge autobiographical ties to his novel, Invisible Man (1952), most critics agree that much of the book alludes to Ellison’s early years as a student at Tuskegee and as an aspiring writer in New York. Ellison himself understood the paradox. As a winner the National Book Award, he was one of the most recognized writers in the country. His narrator, on the other hand, had been so marginalized by society he was nameless.

Ellison is also the author of Shadow and Act (1964), a collection of essays, but he was never able to complete his second novel, Juneteenth, which was published posthumously.

Related links: Joyce Carol Thomas and Clifton Taulbert

Did You Know...

When Ralph Ellison won the National Book Award, one of the other nominees was literary icon Ernest Hemingway.

Getting Started with Ralph Ellison

Selected Works

Invisible Man, 1952
Shadow and Act, 1964
Juneteenth, 1999

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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture