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Invisible Man: A Novel Audiobook, by Ralph Ellison Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ralph Ellison Narrator: Joe Morton Publisher: Random House Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2010 ISBN: 9780307915122
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)
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A milestone in American literature—a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.

The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York, becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood,” and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the invisible man he imagines himself to be.

The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, James Joyce, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A book of the very first order, a superb book.

    Saul Bellow, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • Invisible Man belongs on the shelf with the classical efforts man has made to chart the river Lethe from its mouth to its source.”

    New York Times

  • “This audiobook is a tour de force. The talented Joe Morton gives a virtuoso narration. Morton inhabits the novel’s unnamed narrator and draws the listener into his remarkable world from the first to the last sentence. His exceptional portrayals of the wide cast of characters, ranging from a poor Southern black farmer to Harlem hipsters, white tycoons, and black matriarchs make this audiobook especially vivid…Morton rises to every occasion…all is made real and memorable. This is an audiobook to cherish. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”

    AudioFile

  • “A work of extraordinary intensity—powerfully imagined and written with a savage, wryly humorous gusto.”

    Atlantic Monthly

  • “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…Morton’s performance is immediate, intimate, tragic, and effortlessly natural.”

    Salon (audio review)

  • 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.”

    Amazon.com

  • “One of the best works of American fiction of the twentieth century…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
  • One of the Modern Library's 100 Best English-Language Novels of the Twentieth Century
  • A Kirkus Reviews Pick of 10 Classics That Never Get Old
  • A PBS Great American Read selection
  • A New York Times Editor's Choice of Books of the Century
  • A New York Public Library Staff Pick of Favorite Books of the Last 125 Years
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Reviews

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  • 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 | 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. | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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. "

About the Author

Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914–1994) was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar, and writer. He is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953. He also wrote Shadow and Act, a collection of political, social, and critical essays, and Going to the Territory.

About the Narrator

Joe Morton is a winner of multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards for audiobook narration. A graduate of Hofstra University’s drama program, he has an extensive list of film and television credits, including Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Speed, Smallville, and Eureka. He made his Broadway debut in Hair and was nominated for a Tony Award for the musical Raisin. In 2014 he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his work on Scandal.