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Extended Audio Sample Invisible Man: A Novel Audiobook, by Ralph Ellison Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00001613527817 out of 53.00001613527817 out of 53.00001613527817 out of 53.00001613527817 out of 53.00001613527817 out of 5 3.00 (61,976 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ralph Ellison Narrator: Joe Morton Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2010 ISBN: 9780307915122
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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

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.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Invisible Man is certainly a book about race in America, and sadly enough, few of the problems it chronicles have disappeared even now. But Ellison’s first novel transcends such a narrow definition. It’s also a book about the human race stumbling down the path to identity, challenged and successful to varying degrees. None of us can ever be sure of the truth beyond ourselves, and possibly not even there. The world is a tricky place, and no one knows this better than the invisible man, who leaves us with these chilling, provocative words: ‘And it is this which frightens me: Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?’"

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “This recording isn’t new, but I heard it for the first time this year, when the attempted banning of Ellison’s classic in North Carolina prompted me to reread this favorite of my youth. Morton’s may be the best single-actor audiobook narration I’ve ever heard, so it seems worth celebrating even if it’s not fresh from the studio. Ellison’s first-person account of a nameless man navigating a slightly absurd minefield of race, politics, sex, and identity is both specific to the African American experience and ultimately universal. Morton’s performance is immediate, intimate, tragic, and effortlessly natural.”

    Salon

  • “One of the best works of American fiction of the twentieth century…The experiences of the unnamed protagonist in the rural South and in post-World War II Harlem serve as allegories for maturing intellectual, emotional, and moral sensitivities in us all, black or white, rich or poor, 1950s or 1990s. Though blessed with individual gifts, perhaps even with social privilege, we become, like the protagonist, a construct of others’ prejudices, expectations, and stereotypes—we become ambiguous to self, invisible to our own society. The society, attitudes, and institutions of the 1950s play large roles in shaping the invisible hero. It seems a shame that not much has changed: parallel influences seem to have kept us from understanding very much more as a society now than we knew then. Highly recommended for adult fiction collections.”

    Library Journal

  • One of Time Magazine's Best 100 English-Language Novels from 1923–2005
  • A Salon Best Audiobook of the Year for 2014
  • Winner of the National Book Award in 1953

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lola | 2/20/2014

    " This book is intense from beginning to end. An exhausting journey through one man's extraordinary life. I own the paperback, kindle digital print, AND the audible version (The narrator makes the story come alive! Dynamic!) you must know that I LOVE this book. Imagine the world not seeing you as you see yourself.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kara | 2/15/2014

    " Great and important piece of literature that anyone of any race can identify with... A great read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rand Harker | 1/22/2014

    " Vivid and impressionistic prose. The "Candide" structure, gradual loss of innocence etc. works very well and individual passages can be stunning. The best parts of the book are the most surrealistic; those which work less well (for me) are the more naturalistic parts related to the Brotherhood, and the epilogue which seems to feel it has to do a summing up for the reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 1/11/2014

    " Couldn't finish this shit, even though I'm to write an essay on it over the weekend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 K.M. Weiland | 1/4/2014

    " An eloquent, surprising, gripping, revolting, thought-provoking book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 12/30/2013

    " I needed to read this for class, but I found the descriptions to be wonderful. Not the easiest to start, but it was not hard to read overall. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Libretto | 12/28/2013

    " One of the greatest books of all time. This book is one of the most important reasons that "The Help" is a less than useless book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Philip | 12/19/2013

    " One of my favorite novels. Astonishing writing, powerful and brutal. It captures the energy of a specific time but feels timeless, just the way great stories should. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deedee Light | 12/14/2013

    " Mentally a difficult book to digest yet one that provided insight beyond my experience and youth at the time. Will recommend to my nieces when they hit 20s. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 11/15/2013

    " One of those books I really appreciate but wasn't swept away with. I enjoyed thinking about it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kaily | 10/28/2013

    " Yet again, another novel which brings forth issues of colletive inheritance, history, racial issues, and cultural identity. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 P. | 10/28/2013

    " I was afraid during the first chapter of the book that this would be an unpleasant slog, but it turned out to be interesting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jen | 9/20/2013

    " Unfairly, I didn't like this book because I was forced to read it in AP Literature. Let's just say I had a strong case of senior-itis at the time. I'm not unconvinced it's worth another read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caroline | 7/18/2013

    " Awesome as was The Court Theatre's rendition. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lawrence | 3/27/2013

    " Ellison's epic journey describing the society, race relations, and economic deprivation. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jt O'Neill | 9/10/2012

    " I must admit that I read this as part of a required class that I was taking in the summer. I completely resented the class and hated the whole experience..... probably explains why I didn't like the book so much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert Gelb | 6/27/2012

    " It has probably the best first sentence I've seen in a novel in a long time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karla | 4/22/2012

    " Had to read it again because I do find that when I read books as an adult that I read when I was younger, there are different messages or elements that stand out. Still so poignant. Brilliant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 9/9/2011

    " I feel like I need to know more about the president. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 IMycroft | 8/5/2011

    " I wish people recognized this as the "Invisible Man" and not H.G. Wells'. This is a great social commentary on racism in America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phillip | 6/4/2011

    " This was a great book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 5/12/2011

    " Very episodic but interesting... I'm not too sure if it's more telling of African Americans, Caucasian Americans, or weird incestuous Jim Truebloods. My favorite passage is when the narrator states, "I Yam What I Yam." Mostly because yams are delicious... and I wanted one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Morgan | 5/8/2011

    " A overview on how finding justice in this world comes from finding the invisibility we neglect to see "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Synoria | 5/6/2011

    " Great classic. I wish that the younger generation would read it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Keshov | 5/4/2011

    " It is an interesting book and a great example of the treatment of African Americans at this time period. Unfortunately, I find the main character unrealistically naïve and that hinders my ability to believe the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brett | 4/24/2011

    " Still awesome, though the paint company chapters are pretty brutal. And yeah, the characterization may not be the greatest, but the prose more than makes up for it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Risa | 4/24/2011

    " I should re-read this; it was too complicated for my high school brain to understand the ending; but I know I loved it until then.... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 4/22/2011

    " I read this for a modernism course and in terms of modern literature this is very readable. I do feel that it was about 100 pages too long. So many plot movements that go no where (which is very modern) it wasn't my favorite book but not so terrible that it shouldn't be read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 4/21/2011

    " should have read it in high school when i was supposed to, very good... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Milkman3367 | 4/20/2011

    " "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?' Who indeed, Mr. Ellison. Illegitimi non carborundum. "

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About the Narrator

Joe Morton is an award-winning actor who made his Broadway debut in Hair and has gone on to perform in many other plays and over seventy films, made-for-TV movies, and mini-series. He and his wife Nora have two children.