Percival Everett

Percival Everett is an American author and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Everett was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. His novel Erasure (2001) was adapted into the movie American Fiction (2023).

Percival Everett was born in Fort Gordon, Georgia. He moved to Columbia, South Carolina, during his infancy. He is the oldest of several children to parents Percival Leonard Everett, a U.S. Army sergeant turned dentist, and Dorothy (née Stinson) Everett.

Everett holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Miami, where he studied biochemistry and mathematical logic. He completed his M.A. in fiction at Brown University in 1982.

He resides in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, novelist Danzy Senna.

In 1983, Everett published Suder, a novel about a slumping baseball player. His subsequent novels, like Walk Me to the Distance (1985) and Cutting Lisa (1986), explore diverse themes and settings. Everett ventured into short stories with The Weather and Women Treat Me Fair (1987) and reimagined Greek myths in Zulus (1990) and For Her Dark Skin (1990).

He wrote a children's book, The One That Got Away (1992), and returned to adult fiction with God's Country (1994), a parody of Westerns. His work often challenges genre norms, blending satire, social commentary, and reinvention of myths.

His most known book, Erasure (2001), critiques the publishing industry's stereotyping of African-American literature. American Fiction, adapted from Erasure, brings Everett's critique of literary stereotypes to the screen, featuring Jeffrey Wright, Sterling K. Brown, and Leslie Uggams.

Everett co-authored A History of the African-American People (Proposed) by Strom Thurmond (2004) with James Kincaid, a satirical take on political and racial absurdities.

His novel American Desert (2004) contemplates life and death through the resurrection of Ted Street. Wounded (2005) addresses hate crimes in a Western setting.

Everett has also published poetry, including "re:f (gesture)" (2006) and Swimming Swimmers Swimming (2010). The Water Cure (2007) explores themes of revenge and morality.

I Am Not Sidney Poitier (2009) examines identity and racial segregation, drawing parallels to Sidney Poitier's life. "Assumption" (2011) is a triptych about Deputy Sheriff Ogden Walker.

Percival Everett by Virgil Russell (2013) is a novel about a son narrating his father's story, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

The Trees (2021), a satire on racial violence, was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize. Dr. No (2022) received the 2023 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and explores themes of identity and resistance.

Everett has been honored with numerous awards, including the Hurston Wright Legacy Award and the Pulitzer Prize finalist position for The Trees. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received the Guggenheim Fellowship.

His latest novel, James (2024), retells the story of Huckleberry Finn from Jim's perspective, offering a fresh look at classic American literature.

Percival Everett now lives in Los Angeles.

Photo credit: Michael Avedon
years of life: 22 December 1956 present


gonzalo ortegahas quotedlast month
Story idea—a man marries a woman whose name is the same as that of his first wife. One night while making love he says her name and the woman accuses him of calling out the name of his first wife. Of course he in fact has called out the name of his first wife, but also he has called out his present wife’s name. He tells her that he was not thinking of his first wife, but she says she knows what she heard.
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