Invisible Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Invisible Life (Invisible Life #1)

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  3,547 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Invisible Life is the story of a young man's coming of age. Law school, girlfriends, and career choices were all part of Raymond Tyler's life, but there were other, more terrifying issues for him to confront. Being black was tough enough, but Raymond was becoming more and more conscious of sexual feelings that he knew weren't "right." He was completely committed to Sela, h...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 15th 1994 by Anchor (first published December 28th 1991)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Invisible Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Invisible Life

Drawn Together by Z.A. MaxfieldOne Night in Bangkok by Gale StanleyMexican Heat by Laura BaumbachCollision Course by K.A. MitchellWith Love by J.L. Langley
Best Gay Multicultural Lovers
97th out of 227 books — 180 voters
Maurice by E.M. ForsterNaked by David SedarisAccessible Love Stories by Christy Leigh StewartThe Night Watch by Sarah WatersTrails of Love I Crawl by Ciaran O. Dwynvil
Best Gay & Lesbian Books
21st out of 94 books — 48 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
DeMon Spencer
May 25, 2011 DeMon Spencer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Young adults questioning their sexuality. Specifically Black males, but the story is universal.
Recommended to DeMon by: Serendipity
I'm such a huge fan of the late Mr E Lynn Harris. Following the news of his death, I wrote a blog about how I came to love his books, and about how he touched my life. Here's a copy of that blog:

I was very troubled to hear about the passing of Mr. Harris. To me he was more than just an author. He helped me see that being an out gay black male was possible. The way I first discovered his writing was kind of serendipitous. I was a very unhappy closeted college freshman at East Carolina University....more
The passing of this lovely man will not only leave a big hole in my reading list each year but puts an end to his heartfelt and powerful exploration of these specific lives. Since I read his first four books back to back about a decade ago, I have looked forward to spending at least one weekend each summer with his characters who are in some ways so different from those that populate my caucasian agnostic Angeleno life and in other ways absolutely the same. The heroes of his books are so fundame...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Having learned of author Harris via his recent death, I was curious about his introductory groundbreaking novel that was one of the first to acknowledge gay and bisexual black men on the "down low" who passed as straight. The idea of the character Ray being simultaneously in love with two perfect people (male Quinn and female Nicole) is intriguing, but the writing was, I have to say, pretty awful. Ex: "Her skin tone was a yellowish brown-waffle color," "Her skin was paper-sack brown," "I could s...more
E. Lynn Harris was in Seattle recently promoting his latest book. I read a couple of interviews with him that peeked my interest so I got his first book - this one and read it. It's really an easy read and a really interesting view into the life of a black gay man. As a white straight woman, this is a world I honestly don't know at all and this small novel was a really interesting read.
Jul 05, 2008 Serenity rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Serenity by: a friend in college
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Excerpts from my readers response notebook...

"Could you give up the lifestyle and the life?"

"But what would she disapprove of most? Would her reaction be the same if I were enjoying the same conversation with Quinn? Would she have preferred me to be dating a white woman or dating a black man?"

So I wrote these excerpts when I read this book three years ago. No clue what the context was from the story...or what my thoughts were. Presently, I don't know what would infuriate me find out t...more
My review has spoilers...

I didn't think this story was bad enough to be filed in my Sucked Shelf, but it was pretty awful. It read like it was written by a ten year old--lots of simple sentences and a shallow protagonist. It was really hard to root for Ray, a gay man living in the 80's who has accepted the fact that he's gay but chooses to string along women to keep the gay part of him a secret. He's very judgmental of others and how they choose to live: Kyle, for example, who becomes an escort...more
Jan 24, 2011 Michael rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers with low expectations
Shelves: audio
Where do i begin with this disappointing read?

I truly found this to be INSULTING to Black Women. Cowardly bisexual black men lying and cheating on women is no life for anyone. Although we live in a different time than when this was published, I am still disappointed in its embrace of racist and homophobic stereotypes.

Not only that but the writing was all over the place. There was never truly a central focus for the protagonist while the reader was subjected to frequent info-dumping.

Had this be...more
Ground breaking, inspiring and life changing. This book opened many doors for black LGBT authors, yet closed many closet doors tighter.

The story was very dear to me because many of the places in New York City I came out in were mentioned. However, it also changed the black gay community forever. This book is seen as an exposé by some and sent some black men who were straddling the fence running for the hills. It also got black women up in arms and left them with little trust in their counterpar...more
Sep 13, 2007 Larry rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
I really like his books and am glad that there is a black gay author out there writing books about the gay black experience even if he is not strictly considered a gay author in his own community. Black woman are said to be his biggest readers and supporters. I know a lot of gay men that wont read his books because he makes most of his charecters bi sexual and not wholly gay. Personally I think that he depicts the down low black man as accurately as any one else. I have read several of his books...more
Incredible read on bisexuality and masking it. I can see why E. Lynn Harris was so highly praised for this back when this first came out. 'Invisible Life' touches on every heartbeat of how one can understand, accept and cope with their sexuality on top of being a person of color. Smooth, honest, and comfortable storytelling. It's almost serene reading this after so many years of social and political change surrounding LGBT and sexual liberation.
Rating - 4.85/5
Invisible life introduces us to Raymond Jr. Raymond is a bisexual male confused with his sexuality. This first novel by E.Lynn Harris takes you through the life of Raymond beginning in his college years. From there we learn the triumphs of being a bisexual Black man in America. I truly enjoyed this novel by E.Lynn. I felt the story read very smoothly and his writing style is GREAT. I read this book in 5 hours and can't wait to pick up part two.
Sign....its unfortunate that I had to visit a throwback to get this kind of literary satisfaction. This was the perfect romance to read. I really enjoyed the writing style and passionate expressions on love and utter confusion. Raymond was a powerful force to reckon with, having been the alpha and omega. Chin chin and RIP Mr Harris.
What could have been a timely exploration of sexual confusion and the AIDS epidemic ended up being a Sweet Valley High book for gay dudes.
This novel chronicles the life and discovery of Raymond Tyler who is struggling with his sexuality. Raymond has had one serious girlfriend since high school until his senior year in college when he falls in love with a man. Raymond has to keep his sexuality a secret because not only is his male love a jock, but they are both black and living in the South.

After college Raymond moves to NYC and leads a somewhat more open bisexual life. He frequents gay bars and has both straight and gay sexual enc...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is how it all began with this book. How I have grown to love the characters. This book just brings back memories. I remember borrowing this book from my sister and then I was hooked. Who can forget Basil Henderson. If your looking at this review to see if you want to read this book, read; and read all of them. I didn't have the pleasure to read them back to back, as they came out at different times. I will say as an afterthough that this is about gay people, so if your against gay and lesbi...more
I haven't read an LGBTQ novel since I was an undergrad, and at the time, I only read about women, so reading about coming out from the perspective of an African American man was different from most of the things I've read in the past. Ray is a closeted bisexual black man living in what I believe to be the 1980s. He was born and raised (and went to college) in Alabama, but moved to New York for law school and stayed for work and the lifestyle. In Invisible Life, he struggles with the decisions he...more
Janelle Williams
Was it well written?

It read like an author’s first novel. In saying that, I mean that the story was supremely raw. I found that some of the transitions could have been better executed, but then again, maybe his staccato way of writing added to the realness of the story.

Was I able to connect with the story?

Like many readers (I suppose), I think I was a bit frightened of connecting too well with this story. Opening this book I had the same feeling I had when I first listened to Frank Ocean’s Chan...more
Okay so as I stated I am recently getting into E.Lynn Harris books, unfortunately after he passed away but better late than never..I am trying to understand his popularity and learn something new about the secretive but oh so intriguing life of brothers who date other brothers but dont consider themselves gay..In this book the protagonist Raymond is approached his senior year of college when he is deep in love with his high school sweetheart about having a homosexual affair, he goes through with...more
Tamara Evans
The first time I read this book, I was completely blown away. Never before had I read a book which was so true it was scary. "Invisible Life" managed to do what most books hadn't done before, tell what it feels like to come to terms with your sexuality realistically. By this, I mean that most of the times I read books in which the character was gay, the author would sugar coat the issue or worse, spend most of the book debating about the pros and cons of "coming out".

However what E. Lynn Harris...more
Arynetta Floyzelle
I don't want these E. Lynn Harris reviews to look like spam. But again... It has been awhile, almost ten years since I've read his books. But, I remember devouring them. I could not get enough. Would not stop talking about them and recommending them to my friends. Would grind into my guy friends about this idea of 'the down low'. Was truly fascinated. So though I do not remember exactly what I liked about the books... I have to give him a FIVE star rating. Great author.
Oct 24, 2010 Trina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE with an open mind...
Reading this book was the first time I felt like I was not broken inside.

I can not explain it other than saying this book is amazing b/c it takes you through the journey of REAL SELF discovery. It shows the high's and low's of being a member of the silent minority embed within the LGBT community.

Oh and this book WELL PREDATES any book on the topic "The DOWN LOW" and just looks at the journey of learning to follow your heart, even when that is NOT the easy choice to be made. I absolutely love it...more
The tone used here was suspense. His stories are always filled with lust, deceit, passion, questioning, and a journey. He does a great job in setting the tone and getting one involved in the story as soon as you begin reading.

Yes he used the craft well; he builds up all his characters giving them their highlighted moments to shine, but he never really reveals their true nature until the end.

In this book, I would suggest that he would have ended the story differently. He build up much suspense,...more
In February I set a goal to read more African-American lit. I don't think that a book should be labeled "black" or "gay" or "woman's" because the label might turn people off of what might be a really great story.

Invisible Life isn't a great story. But I still enjoyed it. It's about an African-American guy coming to terms with his bisexuality during the early 80's. The book touches on serious subjects but it's written in a way where it seems frothy and fluffy. Some days I can appreciate that, oth...more
Valerie Williams
E. Lynn Harris's track record as a bestselling novelist began here, with the story of Raymond Tyler, who, after years of questioning his sexual identity, finds himself torn between a married male lover and Nicole, the talented actress with whom he imagines himself able to spend the rest of his life.
Anita Dawson
I love E. Lynn Harris. He had the courage to write about a topic that was taboo not only in society, but more so in the black community. This is a story of a young man, Raymond, who not only comes of age, but explores his sexuality. Beautifully written with characters that will last a life time.
Good idea with great soap operatics, but Raymond is kind of a selfish, delusional prick here. I didn't feel that way when I first read this book many, many years ago, but reading it again almost 20 years later has me despising his choices. Maybe I'm freed by the cultural changes around acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality, and maybe I've forgotten what life was like back then. But what I can safely say is I never made these kinds of choices for fear of the collateral damage that they caus...more
Karen Barker
Interesting and troubling. Reading this really is difficult as an African-American woman married to an African-American man. As of today, we are so aware of the down-low society thanks to Oprah using her show as an conduit to get this story out to the African American community an African-American heterosexual women, but it was still difficult to face while reading this book. It was an easy read and even though previous reviews felt the descriptions of the characters were repulsive or unnecessar...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Between Lovers
  • Brothers and Sisters
  • Married Men
  • Sisters & Lovers
  • Disappearing Acts
  • Men Cry in the Dark
  • Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime: Stories
  • Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made
  • Too Much of a Good Thing (Reverend Curtis Black, #2)
E. Lynn Harris was born in Flint, Michigan and raised, along with three sisters, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he was the school's first black yearbook editor, the first black male Razorbacks cheerleader, and the president of his fraternity. He graduated with honors with a degree in journalism.

Harris sold computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard,...more
More about E. Lynn Harris...
Just As I Am Any Way the Wind Blows A Love of My Own And This Too Shall Pass Not a Day Goes By

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“luck runs out but blessings never do!” 28 likes
“my heart knows who i am and who i'll turn out to be!” 17 likes
More quotes…