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James: A Novel by Percival Everett
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James: A Novel (original 2024; edition 2024)

by Percival Everett (Author)

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5832441,095 (4.38)30
Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR BY TIME, NPR, THE SEATTLE TIMES, ELLE, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, AND OPRAH DAILY
A brilliant, action-packed reimagining of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both harrowing and ferociously funny, told from the enslaved Jim's point of view • From the “literary icon” (Oprah Daily) and Pulitzer Prize Finalist whose novel Erasure is the basis for Cord Jefferson’s critically acclaimed film American Fiction
"If you liked Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver, read James, by Percival Everett" —The Washington Post

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.
… (more)
Member:Jonathan5
Title:James: A Novel
Authors:Percival Everett (Author)
Info:Doubleday (2024), 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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James by Percival Everett (2024)

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» See also 30 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Before I begin, I highly recommend that you read this book! The reason I wanted to read it was because it was supposed to flesh out the story of Huckleberry Finn, which is one of my all-time favourite books. Well, this book did have Huck Finn and the slave Jim in it, but it is definitely not a children's book. Percival Everett is a marvellous author. This is the first book that I have read of his, but I've marked the rest of his backlist now. The book is quite simply, brilliant! The characters are living, breathing human beings. The story is gripping and it filled me with a sense of dread and hope from the very first page. Even with the graphic nature of the subject, the book retains a soft sense of humour and portrays random human goodness. I always loved Jim in Huckleberry Finn, but this book portrays his intelligence, compassion, warmth and his total understanding of the entire human race. In this book we see Jim and Huck paddling down the Mississippi River. Their journey is fraught with danger and extreme stealth is required because Jim is a runaway slave, and there are bulletins promising a reward for his capture. On their journey Huck and Jim meet all kinds of different people. I couldn't help but think that this plethora of characters and their various shenanigans is closely linked to Mark Twain's writing. Twain's characters were very singular and unforgettable, and there was good and bad among them. Everett's characters are like this too and they are all so believable. This book is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and I hope that the judges realize what they have here in this unforgettable novel, and award him the top prize. ( )
  Romonko | May 18, 2024 |
Stylistically brilliant and purposeful retelling of the story of Huck Finn and Jim on the Mississippi River, from the point of view of Jim, or James, as he calls himself. James and Huck meet on the island in the river off the coast of Hannibal, Missouri, both escaping terrible fates: James is about to be sold away from his wife and daughter, Huck is escaping his brutal father.

As Everett says, Twain could not tell Jim's story, because he could not really know Jim's story. In this story, James has taught himself to read and is more educated than most of the whites who surround him. He speaks a Southern slave Blacklish to avoid their detection.

At every point in this riveting story, I was routing for James to survive and gain his freedom. This is a masterpiece, one that should be read in high schools along with Huckleberry Finn. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | May 18, 2024 |
I think I need to sit with this, and perhaps after doing that I will augment this review. Or maybe I don't have a lot to say about this masterpiece. It is tragic, action-packed, funny and redemptive and it tells the story of a real man and of America, then and now. In his GR interview, Everett said he could not have told Huck's story, and that Twain couldn't write this story. I kept remembering that as I listened to this audiobook, and though I would never have had that thought independently it feels absolutely accurate. (The narration by Dominic Hoffman is stellar by the way.) I have read Huck Finn five times and listened to the audio with my then teenage son on a road trip to Memphis. It is one of my favorite books. While I think the grounding in the original may have made me love this a hair more, I don't think it was necessary. This stands on its own, though knowing the basics of the original would be helpful. In the end, the books have very little to do with one another, they are as related and as unrelated as Brave New World is to The Tempest. A new classic is born. ( )
  Narshkite | May 17, 2024 |
A retelling of Huckleberry Finn from Jim's (aka James) point of view. I really enjoyed the telling of the story (though it's got some very raw moments, that fit the times in which it was written) and the authors style of writing. One of my favorite 2024 reads.
  bookczuk | May 16, 2024 |
when the slave James learns that he is about to be sold, he decides to hide out on Jackson Island until he can make a plan. Down the Mississippi he goes with Huck but told from his viewpoint. Jim is shown to be intelligent, compassionate, and brave. ( )
  MartyB2000 | May 14, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Lasman: Who is Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, who is James in your novel, and what is the link between them? How do you connect these characters who share so much but also have quite different experiences across the two books?

Everett: The Jim in Twain’s novel is an important character, and a symbolic character representing slavery, though Twain cautions us not to find any deeper meaning than an adventure story in it. I think that is being coy. Twain would not have been and was not capable of rendering Jim’s story. It was far removed from his experience, though he could have stood witness and did stand witness to many people like Jim. The Huck character suffers familial oppression, which in its way is no different from any other kind of oppression, but it’s still not the same thing as slavery. Huck doesn’t have to worry that when he runs, he will be murdered.

When I started thinking about the novel, about the fact that Jim’s lack of agency was not a failure but an impossibility, I decided that I needed to give this character some agency.
 
“My idea of hell would be to live with a library that contained only reimaginings of famous novels,” writes Dwight Garner in his rave review of Percival Everett’s radical new reinterpretation of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “James is the rarest of exceptions. It should come bundled with Twain’s novel. It is a tangled and subversive homage, a labor of rough love.” (from Library of America marketing email)
added by elenchus | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner (pay site) (Mar 11, 2024)
 
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Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR BY TIME, NPR, THE SEATTLE TIMES, ELLE, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, AND OPRAH DAILY
A brilliant, action-packed reimagining of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both harrowing and ferociously funny, told from the enslaved Jim's point of view • From the “literary icon” (Oprah Daily) and Pulitzer Prize Finalist whose novel Erasure is the basis for Cord Jefferson’s critically acclaimed film American Fiction
"If you liked Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver, read James, by Percival Everett" —The Washington Post

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.

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