“I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibre and liquids- and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible because people refuse to see me…When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination- indeed, everything and anything except me.”
When I first read the book last year, the above quote really stood out to me. It seemed very Dostevskyan. It has taken a second reading for me to truly process the content of this book, and still I can’t exactly say I understand all the symbolism.
I really enjoy coming of age books and this one is no exception. The book starts off with the narrator attending a college in the American South. Due to some events I won’t get into he moves to Harlem to look for work. We see the maturing process of the narrator as he goes from being an innocent boy to one who begins to question his identity but can’t seem to reconcile it with his role as a black man in (racist) 1950s America. And like any coming-of-age story, there is a lot of interior and external conflict.
It’s hard to really summarize this book because so much goes on. Of course the main issue is about race and how it was for a person of colour living in a racist society at the time. The book also gets political when it outlines different possible approaches for racial integration, one more radical than the other.
All in all a great book, a book which I will probably have to read again (or discuss it with someone!) to understand it better.