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Dr. No

Dr. No

Percival Everett

  • awardWinner, PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, United States, 2023
  • awardShortlisted, Fiction, National Book Critics Circle Awards, United States, 2022
  • The protagonist of Percival Everett’s puckish new novel 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.

    With the help of the brainy and brainwashed astrophysicist-turned-henchwoman Eigen Vector, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. In the process, Wala Kitu learns that Sill’s desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real all-American villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. As Sill says, ‘Professor, think of it this way. This country has never given anything to us and it never will. We have given everything to it. I think it’s time we gave nothing back.’

    Dr. No is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of America’s most inventive, provocative and productive writers. That it is about nothing isn’t to say that it’s not about anything. In fact, it’s about villains. Bond villains. And that’s not nothing.


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    Publishers Weekly (starred review)    
    Wired: the 15 Books You Need to Read This Fall    

    Percival Everett
    About the Author

    Percival Everett is the author of more than thirty books, most recently The Trees (shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Telephone (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize).

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    Text publication date:
    4 April 2023
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    Praise for Percival Everett
    andDr. No

    ‘Everett continues to be an endlessly inventive, genre-devouring creator of thoughtful, tender, provocative, and absolutely unpredictable literary wonders.’

    ‘Everett brings his mordant wit, philosophic inclinations, and narrative mischief to the suspense genre…[He] is adroit at ramping up the tension while sustaining his narrator’s droll patter and injecting well-timed ontological discourses on…well…nothing. It may not sound like anything much, so to speak. But then, neither did all those episodes of Seinfeld that insisted they were about nothing. And this, too, is just as funny, if in a far different, more metaphysical manner. A good place to begin finding out why Everett has such a devoted cult.’

    ‘Everett is a true American genius, a master artist…As off-kilter as ever, Dr. No is Percival Everett at his most artfully absurd and ironic, and it might be just the thing to finally propel this star into the literary ether.’

    ‘It is hard to write or even think about his work without sounding like an inferior edition of Percival Everett…One way to evaluate an artist is to observe the quantity and quality of misinterpretation his work begets. By this measure Everett ranks very highly. “Damn it, I don’t understand it, but I love it,” mutters one of the characters, regarding Sill’s weapon of nothingness. Same.’

    ‘If the unexpected always happens in Everett’s individual novels, the variety across the work also astonishes.’

    ‘The latest zany masterpiece from the novelist Percival Everett…This is the fantasy of Black capitalism, and in Dr. No, Everett has given us an antagonist up to the task of representing its delusions—a villain who thinks he is a hero, a savior who shows up empty-handed.’

    ‘Percival Everett approaches genre like a veteran card shark does poker: methodically patient, rarely playing the same hand twice. His books—30 and counting—are full of ambition and mystery, each one of them sustained by a sense of existential wonder…His latest, Dr. No, doesn’t rely on the themes and tricks that outline any of his previous books but remains needle sharp in thought and originality.’

    ‘It’s hard…to imagine a novelist today with fresher eyes than Percival Everett.’

    ‘Immensely enjoyable…Throughout, Everett boldly makes a farce out of real-world nightmares, and the rapid-fire pacing leaves readers little time to blink. Satire doesn’t get much sharper or funnier than this.’

    ‘The phenomenally talented and prolific Percival Everett conducts a highwire act in Dr. No, balancing opaque mathematical theory with disarmingly deadpan humor over a daunting crevasse of nothing…The result is an entertaining caper of philosophical proportions. It is an adventure that can be appreciated on any of the numerous levels that Everett is working on, from the unassuming bumbling of a humble mathematician to the provocative consequences of unmitigated power, nothing is quite as enjoyable as Dr. No.’

    ‘Percival Everett has always been a prolific writer, but the past few years have been an epic run even for him… . This caper novel will keep you laughing and pondering; nothing will get in the way of that.’

    ‘The caper is beautifully choreographed, and has a number of little winks to the Fleming oeuvre…Everett is astute on character names…[and] has always managed to combine the best of postmodernism with a genuine love of pulp fiction…It is a delicate balance to put together the zany and the profound.’

    ‘[Dr. No] is Everett at his most playful.’

    ‘With tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Everett sends up the whole idea of a criminal trying to get his own wicked way, with bodies-a-plenty, gunfire, even a shark pool beneath a meeting room into which an under-achiever is tipped…A glorious romp, with Everett making a good deal of something out of nothing.’

    ‘It’s just so strange and fun and intriguing, definitely makes me want to know more about the book.’

    Other editions ofDr. No
    • Dr. No
      ISBN: 9781922791429
      10 January 2023
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    Other Titles byPercival Everett