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{ "item_title" : "Dr. No", "item_author" : [" Percival Everett "], "item_description" : "WINNER OF THE 2023 PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARDA 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.", "item_img_path" : "https://covers1.booksamillion.com/covers/bam/1/64/445/208/1644452081_b.jpg", "price_data" : { "retail_price" : "16.00", "online_price" : "16.00", "our_price" : "16.00", "club_price" : "16.00", "savings_pct" : "0", "savings_amt" : "0.00", "club_savings_pct" : "0", "club_savings_amt" : "0.00", "discount_pct" : "10", "store_price" : "16.00" } }
Dr. No|Percival Everett
Dr. No
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Overview

WINNER OF THE 2023 PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARD

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.

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781644452080
  • ISBN-10: 1644452081
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publish Date: November 2022
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds
  • Page Count: 232

Related Categories

Ask a mathematician about the distinction between zero and nothing, and prepare for a clear answer: Zero, they’ll say, is a numerical value. Nothing, to put it simply, is a concept that represents an absence or something of no importance. At some point, everyone encounters people or power structures that make them feel like nothing. But what if “nothing” were a tangible entity that could be weaponized against perceived enemies? That’s the wickedly clever conceit Percival Everett plays with in Dr. No.

The novel’s title, a deliberate reference to Ian Fleming’s 1958 James Bond novel that became a 1962 film, tips off readers that a goof on the secret agent story awaits them. As fans of Everett’s previous work know, hijinks are always in the service of serious themes, usually related to race in America. In this case, they involve two men: a “slightly racially ambiguous” billionaire who yearns to be a Bond villain and a Black professor whose specialty, quite literally, is nothing.

The professor calls himself Wala Kitu, the Tagalog and Swahili terms, respectively, for nothing. He teaches mathematics at Brown University and has spent his career “contemplating and searching for nothing. . . . I work very hard and wish I could say that I have nothing to show for it,” because “to experience the power of nothing would be to understand everything; to harness the power of nothing would be to negate all that is.” 

Someone with nefarious intentions might want to harness that power, too. One such criminal is John Milton Bradley Sill, who gives Wala $3 million to help him enact a plan: Break into the vault at Fort Knox and steal a shoebox that contains a special kind of nothing, then purloin a similarly destructive kind of nothing from the Naval Observatory. Sill intends to use these tools against those who “have never given anything to us,” meaning Black people. “It’s time,” Sill says, “we gave nothing back.”

That’s the sort of twisted logic that readers find throughout Dr. No, along with clever references and character names, including Wala’s one-legged bulldog, Trigo (short for trigonometry), and his colleague Eigen Vector, a straight-laced sort who’s excited about helping a supervillain, because, as she says, she wants to do “bang, bang, stabby, stabby, spy stuff.” 

The result is a memorable work that has fun with spy-novel tropes while also addressing the treatment of Black people in America. Dr. No takes a while to get going, but there’s plenty of classic Everett sophistication to delight his fans. “Nothing matters,” Wala says. In more ways than one, this brilliant novel demonstrates how true that can be.

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