A sly, madcap novel about supervillains and nothing, really, from an American novelist whose star keeps rising
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 our 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.
Praise For Dr. No: A Novel…
“Everett continues to be an endlessly inventive, genre-devouring creator of thoughtful, tender, provocative, and absolutely unpredictable literary wonders.”—Booklist, starred review
“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.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“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.”—Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness
“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.”—Omari Weekes, Vulture's Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2022
“It’s hard . . . to imagine a novelist today with fresher eyes than Percival Everett.”—Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune
Graywolf Press, 9781644452080, 232pp.
Publication Date: November 1, 2022