The Trees: A Novel

by Percival Everett

Paperback, 2021


Checked out
Due Apr 7, 2024


Graywolf Press (2021), 288 pages


Fiction. Literature. Thriller. An uncanny literary thriller addressing the painful legacy of lynching in the US, by the author of Telephone Percival Everett's The Trees is a must-listen that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist white townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America's pulse.… (more)

Media reviews

The setting is a small town called Money, Mississippi, “named in that persistent Southern tradition of irony”. We meet a dysfunctional white family unit with its morose matriarch Granny C, her son Wheat Bryant, and her nephew, Junior Junior. This time it’s the white folks’ turn to be
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rendered in grotesque caricature, and the actions of this feckless clan are played as broad knockabout, almost like a reverse minstrel show.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member Narshkite
Anger is an energy
-John Lydon - Rise

And I'll rise up, I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up, I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up, high like the waves
I'll rise up in spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
-Andra Day - Rise
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Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam
- Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddam

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees
-Milt Raskin - Strange Fruit

A few years back a couple of friends, just days apart, suggested to me that I read Percival Everett's A Touch of Blue." I meant to, I really did, but my TBR rivals K2 and I just never got there. Last year I read a great review of Telephone in the NYT, and I meant to read it, and (repeat the first verse). Then recently my GR friend Robin gave a rhapsodic review to Everett's I Am not Sidney Poitier and I decided I needed to turn intention into action. Alas, with all those good reviews of three specific books, I opted to start with Everett's most recent book, The Trees. I am now mad at myself for not picking up Everett's earlier books.

The Trees is a look at racism in America built on the history of lynching and using the conventions of southern satire, police procedural, and horror. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but it works perfectly. The book is smart, and affecting, and radical in its way. One of the characters in the book is a brilliant academic who writes about racism, one of the other characters notes the dispassion in his work, and he says something like the dispassionate recitation of facts is there to provide the information and the reader supplies the outrage. I agree with that, but sometimes that only works in theory. Everett is clearly a restrained writer, the kind of writer I like, who lets me feel my way about things, but here he shows his cards. This is the least dispassionate book I can imagine. It is stark, it is violent, and Everett does not shrink from inserting himself and telling you that the more things change the more they stay the same, telling you that you should be outraged. And he is right, you should.

I don't want to make this seem grim though. It is also a wryly funny revenge fantasy peopled by absurdly named side characters (my favorite is Helvetica Quip, or maybe Herbie Hind, or maybe Junior Junior and his son Triple J) and our blandly named main characters, Jim and Ed. The heart of the action is in Money, Mississippi infamous for being the place Emmett Till was lynched. I am sure everyone knows that the white woman who claimed Emmett Till whistled at her sort of recanted her story when she was an old woman. I mean, I guess the recantation made identifiable one more slab of evil in human form, but even if she had been telling the truth the crime/lynching would not have been any less horrible. When it appears Emmett Till's ghost has risen to exact revenge against the families of the men who lynched him and the woman who lied, the MBI and later the FBI are called in. Then when other ghosts appear to rise all over the country, Black and Chinese and Native American, apparently also exacting revenge, things really heat up. Alongside the colorful descriptions of the modern revenge killings, apparently perpetrated by ghosts or reanimated corpses, are lists of the men and women lynched in America, and those lists are followed by the names of all the places where racial hatred cost people their lives. Horrible lists. Scarier than any ghost.

Seven years ago I took my son to Selma and Montgomery to walk the streets people trod on, miles and miles, back and forth to work during the bus boycott. We visited the churches which were so integral to the civil rights movement. I raised my son in Atlanta, he attended elementary school in the Old 4th Ward. Our temple's sister congregation was Ebenezer Baptist, and our own congregation's building was bombed by the Klan. My kid had spent his fair share of time walking historically important streets and sitting in historically important houses of worship so the Freedom Trail vacation might have seemed like a bit too much, but I wanted most of all to take him to the Montgomery Lynching Memorial. Designed by Maya Lin (who designed the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall in Washington among many other things, and this year had a really wonderful climate change installation in Madison Park here in NYC with an exhibit on its development at just down the road at Fotografiska.) it lists the names of every person known to have died by lynching, while acknowledging there were many more never recorded. We spent 4 hours reading every name, and where any other information was available reading that. We both walked in with a commitment to social justice and a history of working for change but still the memorial was life-changing for us both because there was nothing historical about it, those names were there in the moment, and they were real people not abstractions. This book, with its lists, has the same effect. It is stunning. What this man does with words -- the wordplay is next level, but at the same time the language is pretty spare and gritty. The way Everett puts all that spare language together makes it sing, ugly sing, the way the blues are described by Ed and Jim on their visit to Beale St. I don't usually post my kindle highlights here, but for this book I will. Check out these fragments if you are interested. It will tell you a lot about the book.

One note: members of Trumpster Fire Nation are going to hate this, but they would have anyway even if the attack was less frontal.
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LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
This novel begins with an apparent double murder in Money, Mississippi. Then one of the bodies disappears from the morgue. When another man is found murdered, and the missing corpse is with the body, things get weird. And then two special detectives for the MBI (Mississippi Bureau of Investigation)
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show up to solve the crime and find the (again) missing corpse.

This is a novel that defies easy description. It's a novel about lynching that is also really funny? A humorous novel about racism? Whatever it is, it's best book I've read this year.
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LibraryThing member banjo123
I read about this one from the Tournament of Books, and thought I'd try it because it was well rated, and a strange premise. Turns out the premise was a bit too strange for me. It takes place in Money, Mississippi; in present day. There are a serious of gory murders of white people, with
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supernatural overtones. It's revenge for the Emmett Till murder by lynching. A pair of African American detectives are sent to investigate the crimes.

The weird thing about this book, is it's also comic. The local white people are comically stereotypical "rednecks." Example: One is named Junior Junior, with a son named Junior Junior Junior.

The point, I think, is that instead of the Black characters being stereotyped, it's the white characters who are, and the black characters are nuanced. So if you like the idea, please read the book, but it was a bit too slapstick for me.
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LibraryThing member kjuliff
Blackbird singing

Read by Dwayne Glaption
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins

Wow! It’s really the only word needed to describe this excellent novel. But wait, there’s more.

Of course a synopsis won’t do. I have no desire to spoil this must-read for anyone. The genre? Well it’s dark and funny and tragic
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and mysterious all at once. It starts here.

In the neighborhood of Small Change in the town of Money, Mississippi, a white family comprising of Charlene (Hot Mama Yellah), and Wheat, Granny C, Junior Junior and Lullabelle, gatheres around an empty pool outside a grassless shotgun house. They are discussing using the pool to keep pigs in. Little do they know, but one of them is about to be murdered, his body mutilated, his scrotum stuffed into the hand of a dead black man.

So starts the story. I took notes for my review. A few will hopefully give y’all a flavor of this remarkable book..

“There’s be no First Amendment without the Second”
“If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns”
“When the trumpet sounds I’m outa here”
- Stickers on the deputy coroner’s rusted-out car.

The top coroner is called Reverend Fondel. A nasty fellow a KKK supporter who discovers he is back. Only one of many of Everett’s imagined characters, so exquisitely described that we can’t wait to meet the next one. Then their’s their names. Junior’s son Junior, Junior Junior, Mister Mister, Fondel, Hobsinger.MacDonald MacDonald, Pick L. Dill. Not since Dickens has a novel’s characters so matched their owners’.

“You kill em We chill ‘em”
“You stab ‘em we lay ‘em”
“You slay ‘em We slab ‘em”
Two detectives pay a visit to the Acme Cadaver Company. The receptionist has a tattoo on her neck, “Break here in case of emergency”. One of the detectives doesn’t get it. When they enter the warehouse Marvin Gaye is being played. The cadavers are kept head-to-toe on a conveyor belt. One cadaver is just male head, the rest of its pieces being scattered somewhere in Pennsylvania. Some employees are playing catch with an eye ball. Others play soccer with a head.

But it’s not all fun, and there’s some serious stuff going on. Seriously.

This is a book to read at leisure and to be taken very, very seriously.
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
Goodness, I don't know how to describe this book or if I should even try. More impactful I think the less known going in the better. What the author has accomplished here is amazing. I've never read anything like it. An author that can take racism and horrific crimes, making this impactful but also
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using a great deal of tongue in cheek humor and ending by turning into a horror story. Let's just say it makes a very strong point. I'll also add that as is often said, revenge is a dish best served cold or as a detective in the story states, "The shit has hit the fan."
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LibraryThing member Dreesie
And with that, I have completed the 18-title ToB shortlist!

The Trees is set in Money, Mississippi. Carolyn Bryant—the woman who accused Emmett Till—is an elderly woman in this novel, surrounded by descendants. But this novel is not about her. This novel is about race relations and karma.
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It’s about years, decades, centuries of pain. It touches on what “race” really even is/isn’t.

The main characters are Ed and Jim, Black detectives of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. They are sent to Money to investigate a series of grisly murders and the body that appears at every murder scene before disappearing again. And there is Gertrude, local waitress, who introduces them to local people and places. As similar crimes occur around the country, an FBI agent joins the investigation.

No spoilers, but the most amazing thing about this book is that it is funny. This very serious book is also hysterically funny. I would never have expected this to be true, but Everett did it. His satire game is very strong. The unnamed Trump character’s speech is so believable that it’s funny and infuriating at the same time—and so goes the book.

I was wondering how Everett could possibly explain the happenings and wrap this up—but he managed in a way I found completely satisfying.
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LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
Baffling murders, gruesome and apparently vengeful, are troubling the small town of Money, Mississippi---two White men, found separately, each strangled with barbed wire, each emasculated, each with a battered and dirty Black corpse nearby. Both White men have a family connection to the men
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believed to have murdered Emmett Till 60 years before. Then, the decrepit old White woman who first accused Emmett of whistling at her, and later recanted her story, is found dead of natural causes...but also accompanied by the same--or a very similar--Black corpse. It all proves too much for Sheriff Red Jetty and his force. Enter two special agents from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation...two Black special agents from the MBI. They don't make a lot of progress in figuring out what the devil is going on either...but for a while they, and the reader, have a hell of a lot of fun trying. There are some of the darkest bits of humor I have ever encountered in the first two hundred pages of this book, and I could not put it down. Everett's characters are drawn with wicked accuracy, and named with a whimsy that defies description. As deaths multiply all across the U. S., the mysterious unidentified unmutilated companion corpses begin to include Chinese and Native American men in addition to Black men. The situation gets less amusing, more profound, more bewildering and even the instigators of the original retributive killings do not understand what they have set in motion. There is no subtlety here, and ultimately not the slightest suggestion of hope for a resolution of either the burgeoning Rising, or the historical atrocities that brought it all into being. Unforgettable.
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LibraryThing member srms.reads
Shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize!

Percival Everett’s “The Trees” begins in Money, Mississippi with the consecutive murders of two of its white residents. In both cases, two bodies, one Black and the other White, respectively disfigured and mutilated, are discovered. When mysterious
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circumstances connect the two murders, the MBI (Mississippi Bureau of Investigation) sends two Black detectives to take charge of the case. These murders are found to have ties to the decades-old lynching of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till. However, the spree of murders is just beginning, and as the narrative progresses, similar murders are being committed in different parts of the country. An FBI agent joins the MBI detectives in a race to uncover the truth behind the crimes and find whoever is responsible.

The small town of Money, MS is home to a cast of interesting characters (the author entertains us with some not-so-subtly named characters) and deep-rooted racism. As incidents of violence directed toward white men become more frequent and the body count increases, we get a glimpse into the reactions among White Supremacist groups and how they gear up for the “race war” that they knew was coming. Here, the author addresses relevant issues with a good dose of humor, keeping it light-hearted but impactful.

We also meet a 105-year-old woman,who maintains “records” of everything ever written about every lynching in the United States of America since 1913 ( she mentions the number “seven thousand and six”), the year she was born. She takes pride in her efforts and does not hesitate to share her records with the investigators in charge of the case. She makes it a point to mention that she considers police shootings to be lynchings.

“They’re investigating a crime, a crime of history. They need to know about this place, so of course they would come to me.”

She enlists the help of an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, who visits Money, MS at the urging of her great-granddaughter. He assists in her efforts to chronicle past and present events.

“When I write the names they become real, not just statistics. When I write the names they become real again. It’s almost like they get a few more seconds here. Do you know what I mean? I would never be able to make up this many names. The names have to be real. They have to be real. Don’t they?……
Mama Z put her hand against the side of Damon face. “Why pencil?” “When I’m done, I’m going to erase every name, set them free.”

Percival Everett is a masterful storyteller. This was my first book by this author and I could not put it down. He weaves an insightful and absorbing narrative of what begins as a murder mystery but evolves into so much more. While on the one hand, we have moments of humor and elements of social satire there are also moments of darkness and elements of surrealism. But at the heart of this story is racial discrimination and violence – a narrative of the history and the legacy of injustice with an emphasis on the lynching of Black people . In turn suspenseful, funny, infuriating, heartbreaking and terrifying, Percival Everett blends fact and fiction to create a layered, genre-defying novel. (In 1955, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old Black boy was kidnapped and murdered, and his body dumped into the Tallahatchie River, by family members of a White woman who alleged that he had misbehaved with her. His case garnered national attention and was pivotal in the Civil Rights Movement. )

“Everybody talks about genocides around the world, but when the killing is slow and spread over a hundred years, no one notices. Where there are no mass graves, no one notices. American outrage is always for show. It has a shelf life."

(Please note that there are graphic descriptions of the crime scenes and frequent usage of racial slurs in the story.)
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LibraryThing member Opinionated
As always, Percival Everett contrives to have the reader doubled up with laughter whilst punching them heavily in the solar plexus. A riotous menagerie of characters, but deadly serious content. In Money, Mississippi, and its satellite town, Small Change, murders are occurring, and the white
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murderees are relatives of those responsible for the lynching of Emmett Till. Each murder is accompanied by the corpse of a long dead Black man. A corpse that keeps disappearing ..

To say more would be to spoil it; this isn't a long book. Read, enjoy and ponder truths about the history of lynching
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LibraryThing member arubabookwoman
This is the second book by Percival Everett I've read this year, and it's another good one.

We are in a small Mississippi town, and there is a series of brutal murders, each involving a least one white victim and one black victim. It is not clear who murdered whom, although in each case the white
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victim has been genitally mutilated. The strange thing is, though, that in each case, the body of the black victim disappears shortly afterwards.

I can't say more about the plot, but this is a brilliant exploration of racial violence and our country's brutal history of racially motivated murder, including the rash of murders by police. It is unlike anything else I have read this year. When I first started reading, it reminded me of something by Carl Hiassen or Dave Barry with characters with names like Hot Mama Yeller, Hattie Berg, Pick L. Dill, Governor Pinch Wheyface, Officers Ho, Chi, and Minh, and so on and so on. As the seriousness of the themes became apparent, I began to wonder if the humor was appropriate, but in the end all worked.

4 stars
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LibraryThing member kayanelson
2022 TOB— Wow, I loved this book. It was extremely clever and the plot kept taking twists and turns. It covered quite a bit of ground and a lot of characters. But underneath it all was one main message—is it okay to get even when you, collectively as a race, have been wronged?

This book is sheer
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LibraryThing member annbury
A combination of American history, detective noir, and horror, this book proposes a powerful "what if?' At times it is funny, and some of the characters are interesting, but the theme drives the novel.
LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
The Trees, Percival Everett, author; Bill Andrew Quinn, narrator
Beginning with bizarre murders occurring in a town called Money, Mississippi, and extending to its suburb called Spare Change, the author seemed to be highlighting the evils of racism and economic inequality, and seemed to be exposing
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the need to find a peaceful resolution for the problems caused by our past sins. His approach was tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic. The citizens highlighted in the novel seemed backward and uneducated, poor, and very unworthy of respect, which they are, unsurprisingly, not given in the narrative. The only honorable community seemed to be the one “of color”, the one that had quietly suffered, that was now quietly planning the murders that ironically “take on a life of their own”, and grow into a “revolution” of sorts, promoting a ”pandemic of death” throughout the country.
As the story became more and more violent, with very graphic details and descriptions of cold-blooded murders and mutilations, it also became less credible, less palatable, and more narrow in its scope for me. Instead of exposing injustice in an effort to seek justice, it seemed rather to justify racial violence against the white population, in order to extract vengeance. The community was not looking for a solution but for retribution. I felt the author’s message was becoming dangerous as dead white bodies were piling up without explanation. In addition, there was always a person of color holding the detached genitals of the dead white victims. This person was also dead, and was always present at the crime scene. It soon became frightfully obvious that the murders were being committed by “zombies”, the resurrected bodies of those who had been unfairly lynched. As the number of deaths began to reach epic proportions, and the atmosphere became more and more gleeful and accepting of the increasing violence, with these growing numbers of zombies claiming the lives of the relatives of those who were raised by racists and those who still harbored racist feelings and behaviors, it grew into a maelstrom of violence.
Ultimately, the white racists continued to be murdered, maimed and disfigured horribly, murdered by black men, Asian men, and others who had been unjustly lynched, with no end in sight. The numbers of the guilty were grossly exaggerated as they reached far into the future to punish those never directly involved, but who seemed guilty due to their pale skin color. As the scholar, Assistant Professor Damon Thruff, worked diligently typing out the names of the victims, spurred on by Mama Z, they continued to rise up and their numbers increased. Murder after murder was committed until the violence spread all over the country and copycats created panic. The death toll multiplied. There was no clarification forthcoming from those in charge as they could not stop the killing.
The author seemed intent on encouraging retribution and revenge, negating any positive feelings of hopefulness as a result of reading this book.
Incongruously, this murderous plan originated and was led by a woman who claimed to be 105 years-old. Perhaps that is what most identifies the absurdity of this novel. The need to hate and seek payback lived on and on. Those who want to continue to hate will love this book, those who want to resolve issues and move on, will not. Liberals who are angry with the former President who is not named, but who is roundly mocked and identified with a gross exaggeration of his behavior through the horrifying use of misleading and false statements supposedly made by him, will love this book, too. They have already promoted many lies, lies that they still continue to support, like those about Russian collusion which is alluded to in this book.
As the word “rise” is repeated over and over to emphasize the need for the dead to rise up and exact vengeance, one has to wonder about the author’s true purpose in writing this book, since in the narrative, he trashes a former President, murders a Governor of Florida, and a former Speaker of the House, without identifying anyone by name, except for the use of the name Melania, very disrespectfully. Perhaps his motives are not as pure as the driven snow. At first, I was actually impressed with the author’s ability to marry a story about racism with humor, as well as with the appropriate gravity it deserved. As I continued, however, I began to doubt my original assessment and was sorry I had recommended it to a friend. The author’s politics are revealed, with a fury, as the barrage of falsehoods are sarcastically presented, and as unnamed Republicans, who are definitely identifiable, are slandered. Everett even ridiculed G-d, along with all those that oppose the views he presented. He seemed to be instigating the rightful use of violence, as he promoted his message which turned into propaganda.
I found the overuse of sarcasm, curse words and the “N” word, uncomfortable. Anyone judged to have had any connection to a racist history, whether or not they were actually involved, seemed to be fair game. Anyone white had a target on their back because presumably they had put the target on the backs of the victims they lynched. This is a book that is perhaps, unintentionally or intentionally, only the author knows that for sure, promoting conflict, and possibly, even a Civil War.
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LibraryThing member Castlelass
This book tells a story of two black detectives investigating a series of present-day murders of one or more white victims and a single black victim. The story begins in Money, Mississippi, where the first of such murders is discovered. As the story progresses, similar murders start occurring in
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many other parts of the US. The storyline references America’s tragic past of lynching.

I was initially hesitant to pick it up since I know it would be painfully difficult to read about a person being lynched. I should have known an author as skilled as Percival Everett would not write such a book. They are not part of the present-day storyline. Instead, it focuses on the legacy of bigotry that haunts us in current times.

The prose is straight-forward. The chapters are short. The dialogue is plentiful. Parts of it contain grim humor. Everett bases the narrative in a familiar genre – that of a detective story. He uses this familiar scenario to deliver biting social commentary, examining the concepts of justice and vengeance.

The names of lynching victims since 1913 are included. It is a long list. And the perpetrators of these crimes have literally gotten away with murder. The point is clearly made, and with no need to moralize. The villain of the piece is clearly racism in all its ugly manifestations. The ending is particularly thought provoking.
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LibraryThing member AdonisGuilfoyle
Well, I fell for the hype again, but didn't get short-changed this time! The first half of the story is hilarious, full of dark (like light-absorbing black paint DARK) humour and droll southern wit. In Money, Mississippi, two redneck family men are brutally murdered in their homes, found alongside
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the corpse of a Black man who has been beaten to death. The body of the Black victim disappears from one crime scene and reappears at the next, hopelessly confusing the sheriff and his deputies. The mother of one victim, Carolyn Bryant, recognises the mysterious man and terrorised into a heart attack by her own guilt.

Now, I must confess that although I knew about the lynching of fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955, I did not recognise the family names of the men who killed him nor the woman whose accusations led to the horrendous murder of the young boy (Carolyn Bryant). When the penny dropped, the book took on a far more sinister tone and a deeper level of historical relevance - but I could still laugh at local yokels living in the past (as the author has said, 'Humour is a fantastic tool because you can use it to get people to relax and then do anything you want to them'). Two (Black) agents from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation - which is actually a thing? - are sent to Money to help the sheriff's department with the murders and missing bodies, and somehow manage to maintain both sarcasm and cynicism in a losing battle against useless deputies, racist locals and zombie killers.

I preferred the supernatural take on the murders at the start of the story to the second half of the book - at one point, even the agents are convinced that Emmett Till has returned from the grave (twice) to exact his revenge. The mash-up of irreverent humour and violent deaths fit the Southern gothic tradition perfectly and I almost didn't want to know what was really going on (and certainly didn't need a cameo appearance from Trump!) But I could also appreciate the necessary reminder of America's record of racism and violence - and the (albeit very campy) warning for the future:

When I write the names they become real, not just statistics. When I write the names they become real again. It’s almost like they get a few more seconds here. Do you know what I mean? I would never be able to make up this many names. The names have to be real. They have to be real. Don’t they?
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LibraryThing member ericlee
This book, shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize, is very hard to categorise. It begins as a kind of police procedural, though one that is at times laugh-out-loud funny. It has elements of horror. And hints throughout about the supernatural. Above all, it is book about racism in America, and
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specifically about the country’s long, shameful history of lynchings. Does all that work in a single book? The short answer is — sometimes. There are moments (without giving much away, these are sometimes lists of names) which are extraordinarily powerful. But I’m not sure that the whole book works together, and I was not satisfied with the ending (though the author clearly had no intention of satisfying me). Recommended.
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LibraryThing member BibliophageOnCoffee
Definitely not my favorite Percival Everett novel, but still a great read.
LibraryThing member rosienotrose
I finally succumbed to the well-deserved buzz surrounding "The Trees" after seeing @somethingarosie mind-boggled stories about it and Holy Shit this book!!!!

We start in the town of Money, Mississippi—a place deeply divided by racism. When black agents Jim and Ed from the MBI (Mississippi Bureau
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of Investigation) arrive to investigate a murder, they encounter resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, and the town's racist inhabitants. But what they uncover is beyond perplexing: at each crime scene, there lies a second victim resembling Emmett Till, a black boy lynched decades ago. As their investigation delves deeper, they realize these murders are not isolated incidents but part of a chilling nationwide phenomenon.

In "The Trees," you'll meet a range of incredible characters, like the remarkable 105-year-old Mama Z, who has meticulously recorded every lynching in America since her birth; and FBI agent Herberta (Herbie) Hind, who joins the team as more murders start to occur.

While reading, you'll feel transported to a different era, as if the story should be set decades in the past. But here's the genius of Percival Everett—he places the novel in 2018, expertly showcasing the deep-seated racism and bigotry that still permeates our world. The casual use of the N-word by white townsfolk, nostalgic KKK meetings, and a tense encounter between the black agents and a white patrolman—all serve as reminders of how close to the surface racism still resides. However, amidst these challenging themes, Everett infuses the story with black humor (no pun intended) and scenes that defy explanation, keeping you on the edge of your seat.

With every page, the mystery deepens, and an understanding of what is actually happening remains elusive. At the end, I was left in awe.

"The Trees" is a powerful and compelling novel that tackles racism head-on while delivering unexpected twists and turns. Brace yourself for a thought-provoking and unforgettable reading experience!
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LibraryThing member Kristelh
Reason Read: American Author Challenge, read Percial Everett.
I chose to read the Trees. It was shortlisted for the Booker in 2022. The story is a mystery, crime, horror, satire. There is a series of brutal murders in Money, Mississippi. While this is a very grusome subject it is also full of lots
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of humor. The setting is small town, Money, Mississippi and features a dysfunctional white trash family of Granny C, Wheat Bryant, and Junior Junior. The themes include resurrection, repetition, and accountability. It covers the history of lynching beginning in 1913 with a focus on the 1955 lynching of Emmett Tyll. The author talks about the white characters, KKK, as historically accurate, stupid people on his Booker Prize videos on The main theme covers the statistics of lynching, giving all these statistics a name as Damon Truff types each victim's name. The question being asked is should we who do not seek justice stop Everett (the author). The story is a story of an eye for eye representing equality and justice. Freedom is that which is deprived the dead when they are simply forgotten. This book makes sure they are not forgotten.
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LibraryThing member RandyMetcalfe
Strange things are happening in Money, Mississippi. Two descendants of the men who lynched Emmett Till have been brutally murdered and mutilated. And each time a dead black man was found at the scene. The same dead black man. And it doesn’t take long before someone notices that he looks rather a
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lot like Emmett Till. What in the world is going on?

In blistering fashion, Percival Everett takes on the history of lynching in America. It is gruesome, both the history and his archly comic response. But since there is a mystery at hand, it needs investigating. Everett takes us along with his two black Special Detectives and later a black, female, FBI agent as they try to piece together what has happened. However, the problem is that things are about to get completely out of hand. What started out as a crime is blossoming into a full-blown metaphysical application of justice.

The best of this novel is the first half (apart from Everett’s trademark gags that continue to appear even in the latter half). At some point, however, the story seems to almost get away from its author. And once metaphysical justice gets out of the box, there seems to be no way to rein it in. You will laugh at times at Everett’s almost juvenile puns and plays on words. At other times you will be utterly appalled, the latter due to the actual history of race in America. And there’s just no way that is going to end well even in a comic novel.

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LibraryThing member greglief
Loved it but ending was less than satisfying.
LibraryThing member sturlington
This is satire turned up to 11. My favorite of the novels by Everett that I have read.
LibraryThing member avanders
I also… thought the 1st half was amazing, while the 2nd half… felt like it lost its way. But still, overall, impressive in what it sought to accomplish. I point to Marchpane’s review.
LibraryThing member 37143Birnbaum
Good book. Edge of the seat thriller. Page-turner.
LibraryThing member quondame
If Everett had been able to build something with these sinews that didn't have to leave us flying from the unfinished overpass of his tale, well it wouldn't have been this book which seems to carry us with humor and too much detachment through a forbidding tunnel but - well there isn't a way out is
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there? Thinking of what zombie indigenous western continent people would wreck in revenge for their ravaged lives isn't maybe what meant to be left in my mind, but it's my mind
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Booker Prize (Longlist — 2022)
Dublin Literary Award (Shortlist — 2023)
The Morning News Tournament of Books (Quarterfinalist — 2022)
PEN/Faulkner Award (Longlist — 2022)
Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (Fiction — 2022)
BookTube Prize (Octofinalist — Fiction — 2022)
Maya Angelou Book Award (Finalist — 2022)
Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (Winner — Fiction — 2022)
BCALA Literary Awards (Honor — Fiction — 2022)
All Connecticut Reads (Shortlist — 2024)


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