cover image Dr. No

Dr. No

Percival Everett. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-64445-208-0

The immensely enjoyable latest from Booker-shortlisted Everett (The Trees) sends up spy movie tropes while commenting on racism in the U.S. The narrator is Wala Kitu, a Black mathematics professor researching the substance of “nothing,” which yields endless clever riffs (in his search for nothing, he has “nothing to show for it”). Kitu is recruited by John Sill, a Black billionaire and aspiring supervillain hoping to use the power of “nothing” to terrify the nation, all in retaliation for the murder of his parents by a white police chief. Intrigued by the possibilities of furthering his research, Kitu joins Sill and is whisked to a Miami lair to begin plotting the attack on Fort Knox, which Sill claims contains no gold, just a powerful “nothing.” Along for the ride is Kitu’s sheltered white colleague, topologist Eigen Vector, whom Sill drugs into becoming his arm candy. As Kitu learns more about Sill’s plan and witnesses his ruthlessness, he tries to escape and save Eigen. Another Sill associate, Gloria, a Black woman with an “enormous afro” who also seems to be under Sill’s spell, tells Kitu her brother was shot for “standing around being Black.” 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. (Nov.)