Ten Evenings

Percival Everett

“He could have gone through life without the knowledge I had given him and he would have been no worse off for it. But I understood at that moment that I had shared the truth with him for myself. I needed for him to have a choice.”

Percival Everett, James

From the author of Erasure, a brilliant, action-packed reimagining of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both harrowing and ferociously funny, told from the enslaved Jim’s point of view. James is destined to be a cornerstone of twenty-first century American literature.

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.

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.

“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

Books

Copies of James are available to purchase from White Whale Bookstore. After the lecture, the author will sign books in the Music Hall Foyer.

WHEN

March 24, 2025 at 7:30 p.m. ET

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Carnegie Music Hall (Oakland)

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Upcoming Lectures

Anna Monardo

MAY 23

Liann Tsoukas and Rob Ruck

JUN 20

Colm Toibin

SEP 16

Pico Iyer

SEP 30