Tom Sawyer

The slave’s story: James, by Percival Everett, reviewed

Rereading The Adventures of Huckle-berry Finn can be a saddening experience. It’s not just the oft-repeated n-word that jolts, then pains, then twinges; it’s the ‘no sah’, ‘I’s agwyne to’ locutions of Huck’s companion, the runaway slave Jim. In retelling the celebrated adventure story in Jim’s own voice, Percival Everett upends the convention. James and his fellow slaves can speak perfectly good English between themselves. It’s only when white folks are around that they perform blackness. Whether two slaves out of the earshot of whites would discuss if a situation represents ‘an example of proleptic irony or dramatic irony’ is another matter. Huck Finn is one of the great voices