Starting in early June, Kirkus is going to publish our best bets for the new fiction and nonfiction that will delight you this summer. But summer isn’t just for reading new books that have the most buzz; hot days give us time to waft in and out of the books we know we’re supposed to have read but never got around to. During this magazine’s 80-year history, our critics have had an enviable track record of knowing which books would become classics when those books were first published. So before we divulge 2013’s hot summer reading titles, this week we give you 10 classics to catch up on.
INVISIBLE MAN An extremely powerful story of a young Southern Negro, from his late high school days through three years of college to his life in Harlem.
His early training prepared him for a life of humility before white men, but through injustices- large and small, he came to realize that he was an "invisible man". People saw in him only a reflection of their preconceived ideas of what he was, denied his individuality, and ultimately did not see him at all. This theme, which has implications far beyond the obvious racial parallel, is skillfully handled. The incidents of the story are wholly absorbing. The boy's dismissal from college because of an innocent mistake, his shocked reaction to the anonymity of the North and to Harlem, his nightmare experiences on a one-day job in a paint factory and in the hospital, his lightning success as the Harlem leader of a communistic organization known as the Brotherhood, his involvement in black versus white and black versus black clashes and his disillusion and understanding of his invisibility- all climax naturally in scenes of violence and riot, followed by a retreat which is both literal and figurative. Parts of this experience may have been told before, but never with such freshness, intensity and power.
This is Ellison's first novel, but he has complete control of his story and his style. Watch it. Read full book review >