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The 2,000 disjointed pages Ralph Ellison (pictured) wrote over a 40-year period for what was to become his second novel suggest defeat. The work was begun as early as 1954, but Ellison, who died in 1994, would not live to weave his literary strands into completed book. Did this author of astonishing brilliance get lost in a labyrinth of his own making? Did he drown in the quicksand of indecision? Completed in seven years, his exquisite first novel, Invisible Man, garnered a National Book Award in 1953 and became one of the most important novels of the 20th century. In it, Ellison deftly fashioned his protagonist’s quest for self-identity amidst racial injustice into the highest of art. But this masterpiece was a tough act to follow. And though Ellison scribbled endlessly on his subsequent novel, at the time of his death in 1994, he had left no specific instructions about its fate. But Ellison’s widow invited his literary executor, John F. Callahan, to edit the author’s notes and bring closure to the second book’s saga. With the just-published, 350-page Juneteenth, Callahan arranges the puzzle pieces Ellison left behind into a cohesive, cerebral, and majestic narrative. Still, one must wonder: Is Ellison smiling or scowling from his grave? Callahan discusses Invisible Man at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 29, at the Library of Congress’ Madison Building, in the Montpelier Room, 1st & Independence Ave. SE, and Juneteenth at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, at the Library of Congress’ Madison Building, in the Mumford Room. Both events are free. (202) 707-5221. (Nefretiti Makenta)