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« Event Spotlight: Achy Obejas @ Harold Washington Library & Book Cellar Academia Gets Romantic »

On the Web Mon Jul 13 2009

1953 & 1954 NBA Winners: Invisible Man & The Adventures of Augie March

In their continuing celebration of their past 77 winners, the National Book Award blog offers thoughts on the 1953 winner, University of Chicago visiting professor Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and the 1954 winner, Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March.

invisible man.jpgWrites Charles Johnson, past National Book Award winner and chair of the National Book Awards Fiction Panel, on the continuing relevance of Invisible Man: "As our understanding of liberty, equality, and this nation's ideals grows and evolves, our experience of Invisible Man deepens, achieving ever greater subtlety, nuance, and prescience...While black Americans are certainly more 'visible' today, especially after Barack Obama became this nation's first African American president, it is nevertheless true that so many other groups--- Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, new African immigrants to America, and native Americans to name just a few---can make a case for still being 'invisible' men and women in contemporary America. Well might they argue that 'on the lower frequencies,' Invisible Man speaks to their daily, lived experience."

augie march.jpgOn The Adventures of Augie March, The Paris Review editor National Rich says of Bellow's prose : "The Adventures of Augie March is for me the great creation myth of twentieth century American literature. It marks the emergence of a new literary hero, the working-class Jewish quester; a new novelistic form, one based entirely on character instead of, and even to the expense of, plot; and most significantly, a new language. An urban Jewish Midwestern argot that is both vividly realistic yet completely of Bellow's own invention. It is a language that one must learn by immersion, as in a Berlitz course. Some readers complain that the first forty or fifty pages are slow. The truth is that it takes time to get used to the arrhythmic canter and the slingshot energy of Bellow's prose."

 
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