Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble:

"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."

This novel has received praise from all quarters ever since its original publication, and in my opinion every bit of praise is well-deserved. This is a magnificent book. Mr. Ellison is able to make you connect with the main character in a way that few authors can. It's not an easy read, but then I'm sure it wasn't meant to be. And by not easy, I don't mean the writing style -- the book flows and moves incredibly quickly -- but rather the subject matter. Often, an author can only shake us out of our comfort zone by showing us how brutal and ugly life can truly be. And there's no doubt that, no matter how advanced and "civilized" our society is, there continues to be discrimination of all types. As a white woman, I'm sure that I will never truly understand what it feels like to be a minority in our society, but this book moved me just a little bit closer and for that, Mr. Ellison deserves and receives my gratitude.