Ralph Ellison: No Longer The ‘Invisible Man’ 100 Years After His Birth

ralph-ellison_custom-e476da551b70f622f6968a3f3cd9dd6170be05ca-s2-c85A monument outside 730 Riverside Drive in Harlem, N.Y. — writer Ralph Ellison’s longtime home — commemorates his life and his work.The marker, and many biographical sources, list his birth date as being 1914. But in fact, he was born a year earlier.

Still, events in Oklahoma City — his birthplace — and New York City, where he spent most of his life, are celebrating the centennial of his birth this year.

Ellison’s 1952 novel, Invisible Man, is a searing exploration of race and identity that won the National Book Award the following year and was named one of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century by Timemagazine and The Modern Library.

Among the commemorations, the Schomburg Centerfor Black Research, where the novelist did some of his research for Invisible Man, presented a day of readings from the novel.

Seventeen-year-old Nelaja Muhammadread a scene in which the narrator — searching to find his place in a hostile society — buys a baked yam from a corner stand, and the aroma releases a Proustian flood of memories.

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