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Invisible Man Audiobook
Invisible Man
Written by: 
Ralph Ellison
Narrated by: 
Joe Morton
Invisible Man Audiobook

Invisible Man: A Novel Audiobook

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Audible Editor Reviews

An idealistic young man strives to make his way among the like-minded of his own black community and the larger white world beyond only to experience cascading disillusionment in both. He is The Invisible Man, the protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece, electrifying today, and devastatingly so when published in 1953. A richly poetic and cinematic work carrying a searing social critique, the novel features a first-person narrative that seems written to be heard as much as read. And the actor reading to us here seems to have been born for the role; as the movie trailers say, Joe Morton is The Invisible Man.

From his nameless and hidden existence in a Manhattan basement, our narrator leads us through the events leading to his identity — or lack of one. A high school valedictorian down South, he receives a scholarship from a white group — after being brought onstage for a humiliating, bigoted burlesque. Honored at his black college to chauffeur a visiting white benefactor, he accedes to the request to take a fateful detour through the town’s black slums. As a result, the college’s president, a venerated yet utterly Machiavellian figure, scapegoats him. Expelled and directed north for redemption and employment, he again becomes the fall guy, literally and figuratively, when he is injured and laid off from his job in a union-embattled New York City factory.

Nursed back to health by the kind, maternal Mary up in Harlem, he seems to find his calling at the unlikely event of an elderly couple’s eviction. Spontaneously addressing the roiling crowd to temper their rage lest it incite the armed white evictors, the injustices he shares with them by race, as well as those befalling him for less obvious reasons, impassion him to eloquently encourage their defiance. His oratory draws him to the attention of Jack, head of ‘the brotherhood’ (Ellison’s stand-in for the Communist movement), who offers him work — and successfully indoctrinates him with utopian propaganda and sets him up to lead the party’s Harlem chapter. Seduced by his prestige among the party’s white sophisticates and a long-craved sense of purposefulness he embraces his work, even standing down Ras, an afro-centric nihilist violently competing for followers. Intrigue upon intrigue later, a more sinister threat reveals itself in his dogmatically ruthless brother-mentor plotting to further his cause even at the expense of others’ lives. Racism, our narrator shatteringly learns, is but one form of man’s inhumanity to man. And so, he has hibernated, invisibly, until now, until a stirring in his soul and imagination suggests the possibilities of his own spring.

Propelled largely through its characters’ richly defined verbal personae, the novel is perfectly realized by Joe Morton’s masterful, dramatically distinct vocal embodiments; the protagonist himself is, not surprising, his tour de force. In the end, we experience the sensibility of actor and author as one and the same: a perfect match-up indeed. —Elly Schull Meeks

Publisher's Summary

Ralph Elllison's Invisible Man is a monumental novel, one that can well be called an epic of 20th-century African-American life. It is a strange story, in which many extraordinary things happen, some of them shocking and brutal, some of them pitiful and touching - yet always with elements of comedy and irony and burlesque that appear in unexpected places.

After a brief prologue, the story begins with a terrifying experience from the hero's high-school days; it then moves quickly to the campus of a "Southern Negro college" and then to New York's Harlem, where most of the action takes place.

The many people that the hero meets in the course of his wanderings are remarkably various, complex and significant. With them he becomes involved in an amazing series of adventures, in which he is sometimes befriended but more often deceived and betrayed - as much by himself and his own illusions as by the duplicity and the blindness of others.

Invisible Man is not only a great triumph of storytelling and characterization; it is a profound and uncompromising interpretation of the anomalous position of blacks in American society.

©1952 Ralph Ellison (P)2010 Random House

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (909 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Charles Brookline, ma, United States 01-03-13
    Charles Brookline, ma, United States 01-03-13 Member Since 2016

    UMM, CAN I HAVE THE AUDIO VERSION, PLZ!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Classic that deserves Whispersync!"
    Would you listen to Invisible Man again? Why?

    If Whispersync was available I would be so excited to re-read and add notes! Too many layers for one reading.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Chapman Wing 12-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Reading slightly too dramatic, in EVERY paragraph"
    What did you love best about Invisible Man?

    The opening chapter was brilliant, original, and engaging; very reminiscent of Dostoyevsky's _Notes from Underground_ but significantly new at the same time. The novel as a whole maintains a tacit Dostoyevskian tendency to constantly consider ambiguities of action and interpretation that seem honest throughout--you can really believe in this character. And yet the actual narrative is clear, not muddy like Henry James or other authors who might fit this same description.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Invisible Man?

    The opening chapter; the book begins in media res, and you wonder throughout how we're ever going to get back to the beginning, which is fascinating in itself.


    What three words best describe Joe Morton’s voice?

    Overly dramatic, widely varying volume, impressive range of character voices


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No; I couldn't stomach it for more than an hour at a time.


    Any additional comments?

    Joe Morton has a truly impressive and useful range of character voices throughout, but he puts way too much dramatic emphasis on every paragraph of the whole novel, and it's just frustrating. Whereas on a scale from Robot (0) to Melodrama (10) I like my books to be about a 5, 6 or 7, he's a consistent 8. (For comparison, I'd put Jim Dale at a 6.) It makes the whole book sound like it's full of caps, italics, and ellipses, and it's just way too overstimulating. I can handle listening to the whole book, but only in 20-60 min. snippets at a time.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Montelongo Santa Cruz, CA USA 06-13-13
    Martha Montelongo Santa Cruz, CA USA 06-13-13 Member Since 2016

    Freedom lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Joe Morton is riviting"

    I'm not done with this book yet. I'm not even half way through, but I just have to stop to say Joe Morton is enthralling in this role. He's a one man theater group performing the roles of each character, imprinting each one in my head, with full dimensions, and subtleties. He impels the listener with a rolling smoldering intensity from the beginning, to follow the protagonist's journey, to be transformed, to realizet he is invisible, and what that is, in explicit, complex, glaring terms.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Stoddard Louisiana 07-24-16
    P. Stoddard Louisiana 07-24-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Classic"

    I've always wanted to read this book. Picked it up when I was a kid and read some of it. Its a very good book.
    The reader is pretty much off the charts. There are great readers who have great reading voices but he goes beyond by using his acting skills but not going over the top or trying to grab the glory. He just gives it everything he has. I don't know if he he got any prizes for this but I hope he did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Netherda Santa Rosa, CA, United States 07-09-16
    Netherda Santa Rosa, CA, United States 07-09-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Timely book. Listen to it!"

    Given the news last night about more race related shootings and the deaths of more young men and more police officers, this book could have been written today.
    I recommend it to all young people, esp men, black or otherwise. The funeral speech scene is extremely powerful and potent. You will want to share it.
    it is difficult to listen to parts and a little confusing at the beginning, but well worth the effort.
    Mr. Morton's performance is one of the finest spoken word performances I have experienced.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin 07-06-16
    Justin 07-06-16 Member Since 2015
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    "My favorite book of all!"

    Ralph Ellison has motivated me to fully press as hard as I can to master the art of writing, and writing about issues of race, status, and character. He is my favorite author even though he has only published one major novel (one more posthumously), Invisible Man is an all time great work. I have listened to it more than 9 times now and I get the same feeling of awe whenever I reread it. It's an amazing book by an amazing writer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caveat Emptor Greenville, SC USA 07-01-16
    Caveat Emptor Greenville, SC USA 07-01-16 Member Since 2013

    Pete

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible narration"

    This is an incredible book, and the narration is equally stunning. A classic of American literature, this is a must listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    My mother's daughter 06-27-16
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    "Loved it!"

    Joe Morton was absolutely amazing in this narration! The storyline alone is incredible, and Joe's performance made this audio version a 'page turner.'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Otso Hannula 06-10-16 Member Since 2016
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    "The best audiobook performance I've heard "

    Loved it, a moving and powerful story that goes through more phases and perspectives than any other I've read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wolf Van Weyden 06-10-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Necessary Classic"

    Just as important today as when it was first written. Sad to see the world have changed enough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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