James: A Novel (Hardcover)

James: A Novel By Percival Everett Cover Image
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April 2024 Indie Next List

“Percival Everett, deep into his brilliant career, adds another indelible novel into his vast canon. James reimagines an emblematic — and yes, problematic — American classic and asks about life, history, and our cultural psyche.”
— Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, CA


AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER •  A brilliant, action-packed reimagining of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both harrowing and darkly humorous, told from the enslaved Jim's point of view

In development as a feature film to be produced by Steven Spielberg •  A Best Book of the Year of the Year so Far for 2024: The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, W Magazine, Bustle, LitHub

"Genius"—The Atlantic • "A masterpiece that will help redefine one of the classics of American literature, while also being a major achievement on its own."—Chicago Tribune • "A provocative, enlightening literary work of art."—The Boston Globe • "Everett’s most thrilling novel, but also his most soulful."—The New York Times

When the enslaved Jim overhears that he is about to be sold to a man in New Orleans, separated from his wife and daughter forever, he decides to hide on nearby Jackson Island until he can formulate a plan. Meanwhile, Huck Finn has faked his own death to escape his violent father, recently returned to town. As all readers of American literature know, thus begins the dangerous and transcendent journey by raft down the Mississippi River toward the elusive and too-often-unreliable promise of the Free States and beyond.

While many narrative set pieces of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remain in place (floods and storms, stumbling across both unexpected death and unexpected treasure in the myriad stopping points along the river’s banks, encountering the scam artists posing as the Duke and Dauphin…), Jim’s agency, intelligence and compassion are shown in a radically new light.

Brimming with the electrifying humor and lacerating observations that have made Everett a “literary icon” (Oprah Daily), and one of the most decorated writers of our lifetime, James is destined to be a major publishing event and a cornerstone of twenty-first century American literature.

About the Author

PERCIVAL EVERETT is a Distinguished Professor of English at USC. His most recent books include Dr. No (finalist for the NBCC Award for Fiction and winner of the PEN/ Jean Stein Book Award), The Trees (finalist for the Booker Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction), Telephone (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), So Much Blue, Erasure, and I Am Not Sidney Poitier. He has received the NBCC Ivan Sandrof Life Achievement Award and The Windham Campbell Prize from Yale University. American Fiction, the feature film based on his novel Erasure, was released in 2023 and was awarded the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the writer Danzy Senna, and their children

Praise For…


“The cult favorite author’s electric new work. . . James completely reimagines one-half of Finn’s famous duo, elevating him from unwitting sidekick to reluctant hero. . . Everett brings that laser-sharp wit to James, creating a radical new American adventure.”
—W Magazine

offers page-turning excitement but also off-kilter philosophical picaresque. . . Gripping, painful, funny, horrifying, this is multi-level entertainment, a consummate performance to the last."
—The Guardian
“Blasted clean of Twain’s characterization, Jim emerges here as a man of great dignity, altruism, and intelligence. . . Clever, soulful, and full of righteous rage, [Jim’s] long-silenced voice resounds through this remarkable novel. Subversive and thrilling, James is destined to become a modern classic.” 
“[A] careful and thought-provoking auditing of Huckleberry Finn. . . [James is] a kind of commentary or midrash, broadening our understanding of an endangered classic by bringing out the tragedy behind the comic facade. And that is no small thing. I expect that James will be spoken of as a repudiation of Huckleberry Finn, but a book like this can only be written in a spirit of engaged devotion. More than a correction, it’s a rescue mission. And maybe this time it will work.” 
—The Wall Street Journal
“Heir to Mark Twain’s satirical vision, Everett turns a boyhood memoir into a neo-fugitive slave narrative thriller. . . Using erasure, Everett has produced a daring emendation. Redacting swaths of Huck Finn, he’s revealed another code: the untranslated story of James’s self-emancipation. . . James is a provocative, enlightening work of literary art.” 
—The Boston Globe
“[Everett is a] prolific genius. . . A literary jukebox. . . If anyone is poised to casually (after all, he has bills) write a masterpiece that not only becomes instant canon but also sets a brush fire to the current ones it stands upon, it’s Everett. And that’s exactly what he’s done with James.” 

"Huck Finn’ Is a Masterpiece. This Retelling Just Might Be, Too."
The New York Times

“[A] sly response to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. . . While The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn lampooned American society through the naiveté of its young narrator, James critiques White racism with the sharp insight of a character who’s felt the lash...What’s most striking, ultimately, is the way James both honors and interrogates Huck Finn, along with the nation that reveres it.”
The Washington Post

"Percival Everett [is] our current Great American Novelist. . . [JAMES] is a masterpiece that will help redefine one of the classics of American literature, while also being a major achievement on its own. . . I almost cannot imagine a future where teachers assign The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn without also assigning James alongside it. . . Everett is one of the most, if not the most interesting writers working today.”
—The Chicago Tribune

“To call James a retelling would be an injustice. Everett sends Mark Twain’s classic through the looking glass. What emerges is no longer a children’s book, but a blood-soaked historical novel stripped of all ornament. . . Genius.”
The Atlantic

"Once you’ve picked up Everett’s James, a retelling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you’ll know that only Everett could take on the task of allowing Mark Twain’s character Jim to show what was missing from the original story.”
The Los Angeles Times

“Percival Everett continues his blistering pace of unforgettable fiction with James. . . Everett infuses this well-known story with a refreshingly contemporary jolt of agency, intelligence, and compassion, bringing new life to the character of Jim and the American epic.”
Chicago Review of Books

“Using nuance and vulnerability to emphasize Jim’s humanity, [Everett leaves a] stamp on the literary landscape as he dismantles the stereotypes of the enslaved humans depicted in Twain’s classic. . . Percival Everett has accomplished more than humanizing a marginalized voice. He has, once again, delivered a seminal work of literary reparation.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Everett’s James isn’t out to displace Twain’s book. It’s carrying out a bolder, more ingenuous, and, characteristic of its author, more subversive agenda...Everett endows Jim with greater dimension and nuance than his original creator did. Huckleberry Finn provided Jim with courage, dignity, and virtue. James bestows upon him the greater, if more complicated, privilege of full (if not yet unfettered) humanity."
The New Republic

“Playful and resonant. . . Everett has plenty of derisive fun here, dissecting and subverting damaging stereotypes. . . For a writer who often plays by few rules, Everett has drawn on what he knows best here – that freedom can be won, one word at a time. Add levity and serious intent and you have a novel that's a class act.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Audacious. . . Everett [gives] Jim—who, we learn, prefers to be called James—his agency, letting his intelligence and compassion shine through. James is a poignant if often distressing reintroduction to a beloved character who deserved better.”


“Percival Everett with virtuosic wit presents a spin on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
—Vanity Fair

"More than audacious. With James, Everett has mounted a high-stakes, revisionist raid not just on Twain’s imagination but on ours as a nation. . . [Everett is] a brilliantly sly novelist."
Garden & Gun

"We may not be meeting Jim for the first time, but we’re introduced to him in a bold new way."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"In an astounding riposte, the much-lauded Everett (Dr. No, 2022) rewrites [Huck Finn] as a liberation narrative, told from Jim (or rather James’) point of view...An absolutely essential read."
Booklist (Starred Review)

"The audacious and prolific Everett dives into the very heart of Twain’s epochal odyssey...One of the noblest characters in American literature gets a novel worthy of him."
Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Ingenious … Jim’s wrenching odyssey concludes with remarkable revelations, violent showdowns, and insightful meditations on literature and philosophy. Everett has outdone himself.”
Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

"James is funny and horrifying, brilliant and riveting. In telling the story of Jim instead of Huckleberry Finn, Percival Everett delivers a powerful, necessary corrective to both literature and history. I found myself cheering both the writer and his hero. Who should read this book? Every single person in the country.”
—Ann Patchett

"Percival Everett is a giant of American letters, and James is a canon-shatteringly great book. Unforgiving and compassionate, beautiful and brutal, a tragedy and a farce, this brilliant novel rewrites literary history to let us hear the voices it has long suppressed.”
—Hernan Diaz, author of Trust

“This is a brilliant, accessible, and very necessary companion to Huckleberry Finn.”
—Dave Eggers, author of The Eyes and the Impossible

James is a masterpiece. I read it late this summer, and I have already recommended it to enough people to put it on the bestseller lists, in the classrooms, libraries, book clubs and hands in which it so rightly belongs.”
—Francine Prose

“Percival Everett is a genre.” 
—Kiese Laymon

“Pure brilliance. Funny, wise, gracious; this may be Everett's best book yet.”
—Bonnie Garmus
“Percival Everett is an audacious, beguiling American master, whose wild trajectory has reached astonishing highs in the past decade. Now comes James, which enlists and devours not only Mark Twain’s novel but aspects of Melville, Ellison, and even Kafka to makes an irrevocable intervention into the canon. Everett is simply playing this game at a higher level, and it is the most serious game imaginable.”
—Jonathan Lethem

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385550369
ISBN-10: 0385550367
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: March 19th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English