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Joseph-Beth Booksellers and The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center invite you to an evening with Percival Everett as he discusses he latest book, James, with Cincinnati Mercantile Library Poet Laureate Yalie Saweda Kamara.

Free to Mercantile members and their guests. Limited tickets available.

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.

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. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the writer Danzy Senna, and their children.

Yalie Saweda Kamara is a Sierra Leonean American writer, educator, and researcher from Oakland, California. Selected as the 2022-2023 Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate (2-year term) and a 2023 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, she is the editor of the anthology What You Need to Know About Me: Young Writers on Their Experience of Immigration and the author of the chapbooks A Brief Biography of My Name and When the Living Sing. Kamara earned a PhD in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Cincinnati. She is an assistant professor of English at Xavier University and resides in Cincinnati.

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Percival Everett  with Yalie Saweda Kamara
Percival Everett with Yalie Saweda Kamara

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