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A really good novel of a young black man who is expelled for bizarre reasons from his university in the American South, moves to New York and finds himself embroiled in Harlem's community politics as an organiser - getting to grips with how his society and even his supposed comrades and allies are traumatised and damaged by systematic repression. I couldn't help but speculate that President Obama must have read it; I felt that there were some reflections of it in his own autobiography, though of course he is constrained by the facts to separate his experience of New York from his experience as a community organiser, and also Obama's book has a happier ending. Ellison is not great on the women characters, but otherwise this is well worth reading.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
steve_mollmann
Jul. 3rd, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
I'd be surprised if President Obama hasn't read it; it's pretty standard reading in American undergraduate courses on African-American literature. And yes, it is quite good.

Have you read Richard Wright's Native Son? They make interesting companions, I think.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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