Writer Percival Everett: 'In ownership of language there resides great power'

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In his latest book, 'James,' the author who tackled race in such satirical novels as 'Erasure' (basis of the Oscar-winning 'American Fiction') re-tells the story of 'Huckleberry Finn' from the point of view of Huck's enslaved friend, Jim.

Who, besides Percival Everett, would have a pet crow named Jim Crow? 'When he was on my shoulder, when I wrote the novel 'Erasure,' if I wasn't paying enough attention to him, he would march down my arm and peck at the keys,' Everett said. 'So, I do credit him for having written some of the novel.

That focus on the word misses the point. I don't care about the word. I care about the intention. I care about the meaning. I'm not impressed with attempts to cover up anything.'Everett, the son of a dentist, grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He's from a long line of physicians – and says the only thing he knew growing up was that he didn't want to be a doctor.Why? 'They had to be around people all the time!' he explained.


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