James | Percival Everett

literary fiction | american | racism

First published 2024



"Ain't people a part of nature?"

"If'n dey is, den dey ain't no good part. Da rest o' nature don' hardly talk to no human peoples anymo. Maybe it try from time to time, but peoples don' listen."

As an avid fan of Percival Everett, I immediately purchased his latest novel, James, expecting big things from it — and I was not disappointed! Following on from the profound impact his previous novel The Trees, had on me, Everett once again demonstrates his unparalleled skill in crafting narratives that challenge, provoke, and ultimately resonate deeply with his readers.

James tells the story of Jim, the slave in Mark Twain's famous childrens book, Huckleberry Finn, (which I am ashamed to say I have not read!). This reimagining weaves together themes of identity, race, and the complexities of human existence. Set against the backdrop of the start of the American Civil War, the novel's enigmatic protagonist, James, takes us with him on his journey of self-discovery.

What I find sets Everett apart as a writer is his ability to navigate the intricacies of language and narrative structure. In James, he employs a narrative style that is both inventive and captivating, effortlessly blending elements of satire, humor, and profound introspection. The result is a narrative that is at once thought-provoking and deeply engaging, inviting readers to reflect on the nature of identity and the ways in which we perceive ourselves and others. James is a novel that delves deeply into the intricacies of personal identity and the search for meaning in a complex and often unforgiving world.

My Verdict

One of the novel's greatest strengths lies in its richly drawn characters, each of whom is imbued with a sense of authenticity and depth that is truly remarkable. From the enigmatic James himself to the eclectic cast of supporting characters who populate his world, including Huck and Norman, another slave who is able to "pass" as a white man. Everett has created a cast of characters who leap off the page and into the reader's imagination, staying there forever.


This is another must-read for all fans of Everett and newcomers alike.

Published 01.05.2024

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