I'm about half way through. I read it many years ago, but it appears that I forgot it absolutely. Nothing seems familiar.
I expected it to be a straightforward diatribe against racism, prejudice, and discrimination. It is about the "black experience," of course, but it is also something far stranger. The battle royal, the Golden Day, the boiler room, the hospital -- they all have a surreal, nightmarish quality far removed from the kitchen-sink realism that seems natural to the social protest novel.
I'm not surprised that Ellison started with Notes from Underground as a model. It reads far more like Dostoevsky than Zola. The unnamed narrator is "invisible" partly due to his race, but I think that any alienated outsider might be an "invisible man."
I'll write more when I've finished it.
« Back to index