The Invisible Manuscript
Ralph Ellison died leaving four decades'worth of scribbled notes, thousands of typed pages and 80 computer disks filled with work on an ambitious second novel. For 14 years,a pair of literary detectives labored to fit the pieces together. Now they're ready to share with the world.
By Wil Haygood
On April 16, 1994, a writer famous for a singular and bone-deep literary accomplishment died in his Riverside Drive apartment in Manhattan, his sweet and elegant wife, Fanny, by his side. It was pancreatic cancer that laid him low,then silenced him. He was 80. Because fame had found Ralph Waldo Ellison upon publication of Invisible Man in 1952, because that novel -- about the terrible
and bewitching pain heaped upon its Negro (Ellison loved that word)
protagonist -- had changed the literary landscape of the nation, touching millions, there was, of course, a moving public tribute. Literary lions and common folk converged at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Manhattan six weeks after Ellison's death.