Percival Everett reimagines Huck Finn’s Jim in newest novel James

Press Release
February 26, 2024

Freedom Center and Joseph-Beth Booksellers bring award-winning author to Cincinnati March 29

Percival Everett reimagines Huck Finn's Jim in newest novel James

CINCINNATI – Readers will soon get a new perspective on an American literary classic. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, in partnership with Joseph-Beth Booksellers, is hosting award-winning author Percival Everett for a closer look at his newest book, James, on Thursday, March 29. The book is an action-packed reimagining of Mark Twain’s classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn told from the perspective of the enslaved Jim.

Admission to the event, hosted at the Freedom Center’s Harriet Tubman Theater, is included with a purchase of the book through Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

Everett shows Jim’s agency, intelligence and compassion in a radically new light in James. When the enslaved Jim overhears that he is about to be sold to a man in New Orleans, separated from his wife and daughter forever, he decides to hide on nearby Jackson Island until he can formulate a plan. Meanwhile, Huck Finn has faked his own death to escape his violent father. Thus begins the dangerous and transcendent journey by raft down the Mississippi River toward the elusive and too-often unreliable promise of the Free States and beyond. While many of the familiar set pieces of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remain, Everett reintroduces us to Jim in a bold new way.

“Literature can define our shared consciousness, articulating the hopes, dreams, weaknesses and fears within us through characters that we see in ourselves or find around us. Sometimes, though, we see ourselves represented more as caricatures than characters,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president & COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Percival Everett has taken a character from classic American literature that was problematic at least and incomplete at best and has given him his own voice – one of intelligence, wit and courage. In doing so, he has created the character that Black American can finally see themselves in.”

Join the Freedom Center and Joseph-Beth Booksellers in welcoming Percival Everett on Friday, March 29 at 7 p.m. Your book serves as your ticket to the event and can be purchased at

Percival Everett is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California. His most recent books include Dr. No (finalist for the NBCC Award for Fiction and winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award), The Trees (finalist for the Book Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction), Telephone (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), So Much Blue, Erasure and I Am Not Sidney Poitier. He has received the NBCC Ivan Sandrof Life Achievement Award and The Windham Campbell Prize from Yale University. American Fiction, the feature film based on his novel Erasure, was released to great acclaim in 2023. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the writer Danzy Senna, and their children.


About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery,

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