Conversations with Percival Everett

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For the first eighteen years of his career, Percival Everett (b. 1956) managed to fly under the radar of the literary establishment. He followed his artistic vision down a variety of unconventional paths, including his preference for releasing his books through independent publishers. But with the publication of his novel erasure in 2001, his literary talent could no longer be kept under wraps. The author of more than twenty-five books, Everett has established himself as one of America's--and arguably the world's--premier twenty-first-century fiction writers. Among his many honors since 2000 are Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards for erasure and I Am Not Sidney Poitier (2009) and three prominent awards for his 2005 novel Wounded--the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, France's Prix Lucioles des Libraires, and Italy's Premio Vallombrosa Gregor von Rezzori Prize. Interviews collected in this volume--several of which appear in print or in English translation for the first time--display Everett's abundant wit as well as the independence of thought that has led to his work's being described as characteristically uncharacteristic. At one moment he speaks with great sophistication about the fact that African American authors are forced to overcome constraining expectations about their subject matter that white writers are not. And in the next he talks about training mules or quips about Jim Crow, a pet bird Everett had on his ranch outside Los Angeles. Everett discusses race and gender, his ecological interests, the real and mythic American West, the eclectic nature of his work, the craft of writing, language and linguistic theory, and much more.