Invisible ManRalph Ellison
Oklahoma City-born Ellison orchestrated into his semi-autobiographical novel the labors of the 1930s, the prophetic thunderings of Moby-Dick (its brother-titan in our national literature), and the awful hilarities of the American experience we all must share. I first read it in 11th grade, have discussed it with engineers and English majors alike, and find that it always has a new trick to pull on me. It hasn’t had any more or less direct influence on my life than oxygen has. That is the nature of its inspiration: no matter what frequency you’re on, it’s speaking to you. Listen closely.
From Books That Inspire 2009.