Banned Books Week: Invisible Man

Banned Books Week is September 30-October 6. Sponsored by the American Library Association, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read. This year is the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week! To celebrate the freedom to read, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite banned and challenged books throughout the week.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is narrated by an unnamed African American man, who tells of his journey from a Southern African American college to New York’s Harlem as he searches for an identity to call his own. Along the way, he encounters strange and eccentric characters, must learn to navigate situations that seem to have double meanings, and struggles with who he is in and apart from society. One of the best novels about the intersection of race, individual identity, and contemporary America, Ellison’s novel was challenged and banned for profanity and images of violence and sexuality. It also won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. Read it for the poignant prologue and epilogue alone.

Favorite line:

All of my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. . . I was looking for myself and asking everyone else but myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else seems to have been born with: That I am no one but myself.”

Where to go next: Richard Wright‘s Black Boy


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