OPN 'James' by Percival Everett

When Jim, a man ensnared in the brutal chains of slavery, catches wind of his impending sale to a new master in the bustling heart of New Orleans, a wrenching separation looms, threatening to tear him from his cherished wife and daughter forever.

With resolve forged in the fires of desperation, he seeks refuge in the shadows of Jackson’s Island, plotting his escape with the cunning of a fox, determined to defy the cruel hand of fate.

Meanwhile, Huck Finn, that irrepressible lad of boundless spirit, stages his own audacious departure, fleeing the clutches of his returning father and embarking on a daring journey down the sprawling expanse of the mighty Mississippi.

Each twist and turn of the river holds the tantalising promise of freedom, yet lurking beneath the surface lies the ominous spectre of danger, a reminder of the perils that beset their path.

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'Darkness that surrounds him'

In this vivid retelling, Jim emerges not as a mere pawn in the capricious game of destiny, but as a beacon of resilience, his intellect, courage, and compassion illuminating the darkness that surrounds him.

With a masterful blend of scorching humour and piercing insight, “James” by Percival Everett emerges as a literary force to be reckoned with, hailed by The Times and Sunday Times as a standout achievement of the year.

An iconic writer
Percival Everett is known for his thought-provoking and diverse body of work, and three of his standout books are "Erasure," "I Am Not Sidney Poitier," and "The Trees."

A fresh interpretation of Twain’s timeless classic, narrated through Jim’s eyes, it promises a journey that brims with both uproarious laughter and profound introspection.

Amid the tumult of the Civil War, Jim grapples not only with the physical shackles of enslavement but also with the weight of familial duty that binds him. Alongside Huck, they navigate the treacherous waters of the Mississippi, their raft serving as both sanctuary and battleground in their quest for freedom.

Beyond the riverbanks

Through Jim’s compelling narrative, Everett boldly challenges entrenched stereotypes and amplifies the voices of the marginalised with a razor-sharp wit that slices through the veil of prejudice.

As they confront ruthless slave catchers and endure trials that would test the mettle of even the bravest souls, including Jim’s surreal ordeal as part of a minstrel show, the trajectory of their journey unfolds with breathtaking twists and turns, revealing truths that reverberate far beyond the riverbanks.

With a deft stroke of his pen, Everett writes a richly textured work of laughter, tears, and contemplation, cementing “James” as a modern masterpiece that pays homage to its predecessor while blazing a trail of its own, leaving an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

Ahmad Nazir is a UAE based freelance writer