News & Reviews

Book of the Month – May

“James” by Percival Everett

It has been a long time since a book grabbed me in the opening pages and kept me reading unable to put it down. James is the runaway slave on the raft in the Mississippi River with Huckleberry Finn, the naive, innocent runaway white boy. In Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it is Huck who tells the story of their friendship, dangers on the tumultuous river, from riverboats and immoral man.. Now it’s Jim’s (or, James’s) turn.

You’ll smile, you’ll laugh. James teaches black children how to talk to ‘dem white folk,’ in order to reinforce their feeling of superiority. “White folks expect us to sound a certain way and it can only help if we don’t disappoint them,” James says. “The better they feel, the safer we are.” It’s a satire. A tragedy. Harrowing. A fellow slave steals a pencil so James can write his story, for which he is hanged. James has taught himself to read, though assuring his owner when she accuses him of sneaking into Judge Thatcher’s Library, “What I gone do wif a book.”

What Percival Everett has done with this book is give us a mastepiece, a classic as sure as the original.



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