Percival Everett Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to long fiction, Percival Everett has published short stories, poetry, and works he has characterized as “multimedia,” such as Re: f (gesture) (2006). In 1992, he published a children’s book, The One That Got Away. His most notable collections of short stories are Big Picture (1996) and Damned If I Do (2004). Everett also served as the fiction editor for the journal Callaloo (1994), and his work was featured in a special issue of that journal in 2005. His collection of poetry Abstraktion und Einfühlung was published in 2008.

Everett, a prolific and eclectic writer, challenges the conventions of genre in works such as A History of the African-American People (Proposed) by Strom Thurmond, a collaborative work that plays with the conventions of the epistolary novel and the slave narrative. His novel Walk Me to the Distance was adapted as a film for television under the title Follow Your Heart (1990). In his work, Everett draws on a background in ordinary language philosophy from his academic studies as well as his passions for horse training, woodworking, and fly fishing. He has said that he would rather paint than write, and he has exhibited his abstract paintings.

Percival Everett Achievements

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Percival Everett’s novel Zulus won the New American Writing Award, and Erasure, his biting parody of race in the world of publishing, received the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Everett has also been the recipient of a PEN USA Literary Award and of a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has held fellowships from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Foundation and from the University of New Mexico.

Percival Everett Bibliography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Hoffman, Alice. “Slumps and Tailspins.” The New York Times Book Review, October 2, 1983, 9, 26. Describes the novel’s humor as often overstated. Calls “redeemingly evocative” the flashbacks involving Suder’s youth, wherein the author captures the “terrors of childhood.”

Matuz, Roger, ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 57. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990. A sampling of critical reviews of Everett’s first three novels.

Pear, Nancy. “Percival L. Everett.” In Black Writers: A Selection of Sketches from Contemporary Authors, edited by Sharon Malinowski. 2d ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994. A brief biography and critical overview.

Smith, Wendy. “Walk Me to the Distance.” The New York Times Book Review, March 24, 1985, 24. Argues that the novel can be read as a cautionary tale concerning the misplaced desire to escape the problems of the modern world by seeking some imagined frontier. Asserts that the book’s theme and characterization, however, are undercut by a “terseness that verges on blankness.”

Woods, Paula L. “Dint, Ax, Fo, Screet: Erasure: A Novel.” Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2001, p. 1. An in-depth review.