Award-winning Novelist & Story Writer
"Anything we take for granted, Mr. Everett means to show us, may turn out to be a lie." - The Wall Street Journal
“Percival's talent is multifaceted, sparked by a satiric brilliance that could place him alongside Wright and Ellison.” — Publisher's Weekly
"A sharp satirical voice only predictable in its provocation." —Playboy
Percival Everett is the author of more than twenty novels, three collections of short fiction, and two volumes of poetry. Among his novels, all published by Graywolf, are Percival Everett by Virgil Russell (2013) which is a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Assumption (2011), I Am Not Sidney Poitier (2009), The Water Cure (2008), Wounded, Glyph, Erasure, Zulus, Watershed, and God's Country. His poetry collections are Swimming Swimmers Swimming (2011) and re: f(gesture), both published by Red Hen Press.
He is the recipient of the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction, the Academy Award from an American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, The Believer Book Award, The Vallombrosa Von Rezzori Prize, the PEN/Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, and a New American Writing Award. His stories have been included in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Short Stories. He has served as a judge for, among others, the 1997 National Book Award for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1991. He teaches fiction writing and critical theory and is currently Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.
With these novels and collections of stories to his credit, Everett has developed a reputation as a wordsmith. One critic describes him as a lyrical writer, whose “stark and sometimes powerful prose” leaves a lasting impression. His 1994 book God’s Country drew measured praise from the New York Times: “[The novel] starts sour, then abruptly turns into Cowpoke Absurdism, ending with an acute hallucination of blood, hate and magic. It’s worth the wait. The novel sears.”
He has worked as a musician, a horse trainer, and a teacher. He lives with his wife and two sons in Los Angeles.
“If part of the mission of the artist is to expand the thinking of the culture in which he exists, I have my work cut out for me.” —Percival Everrett
About PERCIVAL EVERETT BY VIRGIL RUSSELL (Fiction, 2013)
A story unfolds inside a story as a man visits his aging father in a nursing home. Each man tells overlapping tales: A painter meets a long-lost daughter. A man named Murphy can’t distinguish between the brothers who employ him. And in Murphy’s troubled dreams, Nat Turner imagines the life of William Styron. Anecdotes from the nursing home intertwine and crest in a wild excursion of the inmates. All the while a running commentary from father and son anchors the shifting plotlines and sheds doubt on their truthfulness. A powerful meditation on the humiliations of old age, Percival Everett by Virgil Russell is an ingenious culmination of Everett’s recurring preoccupations. All of his metaphysical and philosophical inquiries, his investigations into the nature of narrative, have led to this, his most important and elusive novel to date.
About ASSUMPTION (Fiction, 2011)
A baffling triptych of murder mysteries. Ogden Walker, deputy sheriff of a small New Mexico town, is on the trail of an old woman’s murderer. But at the crime scene, his are the only footprints leading up to and away from her door. Something is amiss, and even his mother knows it. As other cases pile up, Ogden gives chase, pursuing flimsy leads for even flimsier reasons. His hunt leads him from the seamier side of Denver to a hippie commune as he seeks the puzzling solution. In Assumption, his follow-up to the wickedly funny I Am Not Sidney Poitier, Percival Everett is in top form as he once again upends our expectations about characters, plot, race, and meaning. A wild ride to the heart of a baffling mystery, Assumption is a literary thriller like no other.
About SWIMMING SWIMMERS SWIMMING (Poetry, 2011)
These poems question the sounds that are meaning. They interrogate where meaning resides and whether they are in any way, rigidly or loosely, wed to the words that carry it. There is a nod toward logic and at once acceptance of its limits. These poems are landscapes, the meaning altering with the movement of clouds, with the changing of light. Irony sometimes is the way we can be earnest.
About I AM NOT SIDNEY POITIER (Fiction, 2009)
...a wickedly funny, stunningly imaginative, and wholly original book that addresses, head-on, sex, racism, religion, and wealth in America. Did we mention it’s really funny? —The Believer
An irresistible comic novel from the master storyteller Percival Everett, and an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America. I was, in life, to be a gambler, a risk-taker, a swashbuckler, a knight. I accepted, then and there, my place in the world. I was a fighter of windmills. I was a chaser of whales. I was Not Sidney Poitier. Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor, and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation. Percival Everett's hilarious new novel follows Not Sidney's tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth. Maturing under the less-than watchful eye of his adopted foster father, Ted Turner, Not gets arrested in rural Georgia for driving while black, sparks a dinnertable explosion at the home of his manipulative girlfriend, and sleuths a murder case in Smut Eye, Alabama, all while navigating the recurrent communication problem: 'What's your name?' a kid would ask. 'Not Sidney,' I would say. 'Okay, then what is it?'