Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a novel written as much for our time as for his 1950’s America. What begins as an episodic journey in the Deep South turns into a story of social movements, a brutal police killing of an unarmed black man and subsequent riots, which include a fair amount of looting and burning.
What brings this book to life though for us contemporary readers won’t be the parallels to our era of social unrest, but the unnamed invisible man at the heart of the story, in whose mind we can see the shifting perceptions of race, brotherhood, and social engineering. Ellison gives us a black man who enters the world of power a Parsifal and exits it with insane notions that just might be right.
I can think of no better book to read right now. Go and get a copy for yourself and a friend.