TomorrowTalks with Percival Everett: "The Trees"

Photo of author Percival Everett by Michael Avedon

Arizona State University welcomes Booker Prize finalist Percival Everett as a guest in its TomorrowTalks series. Everett will discuss his novels "The Trees" (2021) and "Dr. No" (2022) in an online event on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at 6 p.m. Arizona / MST (6 p.m. PDT / 7 p.m. MDT / 8 p.m. CDT / 9 p.m. EDT).

The conversation will be facilitated by ASU literary scholar Ayanna Thompson, a Regents Professor of English and founding director of the RaceB4Race Initiative in the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

This virtual event is free of charge and open to the public; registration is required.

About the books

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Provocative and page-turning, "The Trees" takes direct aim at racism, police violence, and the painful legacy of lynching in the United States. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive in Money, Mississippi to investigate a series of brutal murders, they find at each crime scene an unexpected second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. After meeting resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk, the MBI detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. As the bodies pile up, they seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. "The Trees" was a finalist for the 2022 Booker Prize.

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The protagonist of Everett’s puckish new novel, "Dr. No," is a brilliant professor of mathematics who goes by Wala Kitu. (Wala, he explains, means “nothing” in Tagalog, and Kitu is Swahili for “nothing.”) He is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for the aspiring villain John Sill, who wants to break into Fort Knox to steal, well, not gold bars but a shoebox containing nothing. Once he controls nothing he’ll proceed with a dastardly plan to turn a Massachusetts town into nothing. Or so he thinks. "Dr. No" is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of our most inventive, provocative and productive writers.

About Percival Everett

Percival Everett is the author of more than 30 novels and story collections. Everett has won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle, the Dos Passos Prize, the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, The 2010 Believer Book Award, the Premio Gregor von Rezzori, a Creative Capital Award, BS the Academy Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Everett is currently Distinguished Professor of English at University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles.

About the series

TomorrowTalks place thought leaders of today in conversation with the changemakers of tomorrow: our students. Each distinguished speaker will explain how they use writing to address our most pressing challenges. This year, the series talks with trailblazers; in addition to Everett, speakers include Jonathan Franzen (Oct. 5), Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (Oct. 13) and Jemele Hill (Jan. 26).

TomorrowTalks are a student-engagement initiative led by the Division of Humanities in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU and hosted by ASU's Department of English in partnership with Macmillan Publishers.

Photo of Percival Everett by Michael Avedon

Kyle Jensen
Writing Programs, Department of English