When Ralph Ellison published his first novel, Invisible Man, in 1952, it took the literary world by storm. Orville Prescott, a literary critic at The New York Times, wrote in April of ’52:
Ralph Ellison’s first novel, “The Invisible Man,” is the most impressive work of fiction by an American Negro which I have ever read. Unlike Richard Wright and Willard Motley, who achieve their best effects by overpowering their readers with documentary detail, Mr. Ellison is a finished novelist who uses words with great skill, who writes with poetic intensity and immense narrative drive. “Invisible Man” has many flaws. It is a sensational and feverishly emotional book. It will shock and sicken some of its readers. But, whatever the final verdict on “Invisible Man” may be, it does mark the appearance of a richly talented writer.