June 25, 2020

WDET Book Club chooses 2020 selection: ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison

For the third year, Detroit’s NPR station, WDET-FM 101.9, will host a book club on the radio, online and on Facebook. The WDET Book Club’s 2020 choice is Invisible Man, a novel by Ralph Ellison, published by Random House in 1952. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator and Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson, the WDET Book Club encourages everyone in the Detroit region to take part in reading and discussing this novel about race and identity. 

Invisible Man won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. In 1998, it was ranked number 19 on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel in its list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. Invisible Man has been compared to Kafka and, according to The New York Times, President Barack Obama modeled his memoir Dreams From My Father on Ellison's novel.

“When Ralph Ellison wrote Invisible Man in the early 20th century, he sought to expose America to the horrors of racial inequality and violence that defined Black people’s lives,” said Henderson on why he chose this book. “The same novel, published today, would paint no less an accurate picture. As the nation erupts with exasperation over police brutality and systemic racism, we will read and discuss Invisible Man’s pinpoint descriptions of inequality and racism in the 20th century and bring them forward to today’s demonstrations and protests. Never before has the past been more key to understanding the present or shaping the future.”

Detroit Today will discuss the book weekly on the hourlong program, which airs at 9 a.m. and is rebroadcast at 7 p.m. weekdays at 101.9 FM. The discussions will feature authors, experts and advocates, who will explore the impact the book has made over the better part of the last century, as well as its continued relevance. Detroit Today will delve into real experiences of institutionalized racism, including its impact on issues of individuality and personal identity. 

Book club topics will include conversations about the history of race relations in the United States, inherent biases in the judicial system, law enforcement, and institutional racism and how to identify and correct it. 
The conversation will continue 24 hours a day on the WDET Book Club’s Facebook page, inviting experts, authors and academics to join the conversation with readers. Participants will be invited to start conversations and post corresponding articles and opinions. To join the Book Club on Facebook, readers should search for the WDET Book Club Group, agree to the rules, and the page’s staff administrators will admit them as a member. 

WDET also plans to convene a series of Zoom/Facebook live conversations open to the public through registration at WDET.org/events. These conversations will take place in late July and 
August. Details on topics and guests will be announced in the coming weeks. In-person events are currently on hold and will be announced if social distancing, health and safety can be guaranteed.

Last year’s book was Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s “What The Eyes Don’t See: The Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City.” See more here.

Corporate sponsorship opportunities are available for the WDET Book Club. Contact Toby Tabaczynski for more information. 

About Stephen Henderson

Stephen Henderson is host of Detroit Today and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. A native of Detroit, Henderson is a graduate of University of Detroit High School and the University of Michigan. His resume includes stints at the Detroit Free Press, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and four years covering the Supreme Court for Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau. Henderson’s reputation and ability to have fact-based, fair and compelling conversations makes him a leading figure in the Detroit community. Henderson is also is the founding editor of BridgeDetroit, a nonprofit news and engagement organization focused on lifting up the issues that Detroiters themselves identify as important to their lives.

About WDET-FM 101.9

For more than 70 years, from our Midtown Detroit location on the campus of Wayne State University, WDET-FM 101.9, Detroit’s NPR station, has delivered a unique mix of news, conversation, special programs and music programming. Our powerful 48,000-watt broadcast signal reaches a 70-mile radius across all of southeast Michigan, northwest Ohio and southwest Ontario. It expands nationally through our live stream, website, mobile app and podcasts. WDET-FM 101.9 is a community service of Wayne State University. Support for WDET comes from Wayne State, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, local foundations, and through private donors and corporate underwriting.


Toby Tabaczynski
Phone: 313-577-4255
Email: tobyt@wdet.org