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Extended Audio Sample Invisible Man: A Novel, by Ralph Ellison Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (61,975 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ralph Ellison Narrator: Joe Morto Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Ralph Elllison’s Invisible Man is a monumental novel, one that can well be called an epic of modern African American 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 black college in the South 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 but also a profound and uncompromising interpretation of the anomalous position in American society of African Americans.

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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.”


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by Liz | 1/11/2014

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

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