Percival Everett

A Reimagined Journey Down the Mississippi: A Review of “James” by Percival Everett

Percival Everett’s “James” is a bold and unconventional reimagining of Mark Twain’s iconic novel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Instead of the naive and often biased Huck narrating the story, Everett gives voice to Jim, the enslaved man whom Huck accompanies on their escape down the Mississippi River. Through this narrative shift, Everett offers a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of race, freedom, and the complexities of storytelling itself.


  • Unique Narrative Voice: Everett crafts a compelling and distinct voice for James (Jim), allowing readers to experience the journey through his eyes and understand his perspective on slavery, humanity, and the complexities of their escape.
  • Subversive Retelling: By inverting the power dynamic and centering James’s narrative, Everett challenges the racist biases in Twain’s original and invites readers to reconsider their understanding of the characters and the events depicted.
  • Witty and Thought-Provoking: The novel is infused with Everett’s signature wit and humor, keeping the reader engaged while addressing themes of racism, social injustice, and the power of language with depth and complexity.


  • Departure from the Original: Readers familiar with Twain’s novel might be surprised by the significant changes to the plot and character portrayals. This reimagining might not appeal to those seeking a faithful adaptation.
  • Metafictional Elements: The novel incorporates metafictional elements, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. This can be challenging for some readers who prefer a linear narrative structure.
  • Potentially Uncomfortable Content: The book delves into the realities of slavery and racism, including the use of offensive language and descriptions of brutality. Readers should be prepared for potentially disturbing content.

Overall: “James” is a daring and thought-provoking literary experiment that offers a fresh perspective on a classic American story. While it might not resonate with everyone due to its significant departures from the original and its inclusion of challenging themes, it is a powerful testament to the transformative potential of storytelling and its unique ability to challenge our perspectives and spark critical conversations about history, race, and the human condition.

Recommendation: Highly recommended for readers interested in innovative literary reimaginings, novels that challenge historical narratives, and discussions about race, representation, and the power dynamics inherent in storytelling. Be prepared for a unique reading experience that departs significantly from the original and includes potentially disturbing content.