Devil Is Fine: A Novel (Hardcover)

Devil Is Fine: A Novel By John Vercher Cover Image
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“I held my breath while reading Devil Is Fine; struck by the utter tangibility of everything unfolding. Vercher channels the weight of grief, racism, individual frailty, and communal failure into a novel that also elicits humor and humanity.”
— Stephanie Jones-Byrne, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC

Description


“FULL OF MYSTERY, MAGIC, DARK COMEDY, AND HEART.” ―Deesha Philyaw

“AN INTIMATE NOVEL, BY TURNS BRACING AND HILARIOUS.” ―Maurice Carlos Ruffin

“PROFOUNDLY MOVING.” ―Ben Fountain

“THE NOVEL’S FINAL PAGES WILL LEAVE YOU BREATHLESS.” ―Jonathan Escoffery



Still reeling from a sudden tragedy, our biracial narrator receives a letter from an attorney: he has just inherited a plot of land from his estranged white grandfather. He travels to a beach town several hours south of his home with the intention of selling the land immediately and moving on. But upon inspection, what lies beneath the dirt is far more complicated than he ever imagined. In a shocking irony, he is now the Black owner of a former plantation passed down by the men on his white mother’s side of the family.

Vercher deftly blurs the lines between real and imagined, past and present, tragedy and humor, and fathers and sons in this story of discovering and reclaiming a painful past. With the wit and rawness of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Devil Is Fine is a gripping, surreal, and brilliantly crafted dissection of the legacies we leave behind and those we inherit.

About the Author


John Vercher lives in the Philadelphia region with his wife and two sons. He has a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Mountainview Master of Fine Arts program. John serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of English & Philosophy at Drexel University and was the inaugural Wilma Dykeman writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. His debut novel, Three-Fifths, was named one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune and Booklist. It was nominated for the Edgar and Strand Magazine Critics’ Awards for Best First Novel. His second novel, After the Lights Go Out, called “shrewd and explosive” by The New York Times, was named a Best Book of Summer 2022 by BookRiot and Publishers Weekly, and named a Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Book of 2022.

Praise For…


IndieNext Pick
An NPR Book of the Day
TIME Magazine -
24 New Books You Need to Read This Summer
LA Times - 10 books to add to your reading list in June
The Root - Books by Black Authors We Can't Wait to Read

"Vercher (After the Lights Go Out, 2022) masterfully builds a haunting tale of grief, family secrets, and unacknowledged crimes of racism that inevitably resurface. With dark humor, psychological suspense, ghost-story elements, and echoes of Percival Everett's Erasure (the source of the film American Fiction), Devil Is Fine is a multilayered portrayal of one man’s struggle with his personal demons and a white society’s steadfast refusal to confront its own."
—Booklist, starred review

“In the wrenching latest from Vercher, a struggling biracial writer reckons with his painful family history…Readers won’t be able to look away.”
—Publishers Weekly

"Vercher’s novel is gut-wrenching, but he leavens it with some humor; one of the narrator’s fellow bar patrons calls him names like 'Colson Half-Whitehead' and 'Phony Morrison.' His prose is self-assured...It’s an intelligent book that never loses its heart."
—Kirkus

“Vercher’s [third] novel provides a startling perspective, even darker than American Fiction, on what it means to be a person of color operating within our nation’s book-publishing industry. As the unnamed narrator copes with parenting a teenage son, he receives an unexpected inheritance from his white mother’s family that triggers tragic visions — and allows him to at last untangle his feelings about his own identity.”
―Los Angeles Times

"In John Vercher’s heart-wrenching novel, Devil Is Fine, the unnamed protagonist, a biracial writer, finds himself in constant conversation with the teenage son he unexpectedly lost....Caught between the natural world and the spirit one, he must come to terms with his family’s brutal past and his son’s death in order to find salvation."
TIME

"A mystical, profound journey into an unraveling identity."
―Bookpage, Starred Review

"This powerful story of a family struck by tragedy is laced with magic and humor. No small feat."
―Center for Fiction

"This book is wild, and it's really funny." ―Jean Chen Ho, NPR It's Been a Minute

"Devil is Fine is many things: part meditation, part fever dream, and part high-wire act that, somehow, Vercher executes flawlessly. Few have the imagination to write like this, and even fewer have the skill."
—Jason Mott, author of National Book Award winner Hell of a Book

"As arresting as it is propulsive, Devil is Fine plunges readers into every parents' worst nightmare, and asks, What do we owe to those we've failed? Vercher's rapid-fire insights on fatherhood, loss, and redemption are necessary reading. The novel's final pages will leave you breathless."
—Jonathan Escoffery, author of the Booker Prize finalist If I Survive You

“How can we bear a world in which the pain of our past threatens to extinguish the promise of our future? John Vercher’s lovingly caustic Devil Is Fine threads this question with dexterity and heart, allowing for the possibility that our flaws might also be our salvation.”
—Mira Jacob, author of national bestsellers Good Talk and The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing


“What makes John Vercher such a gorgeous, brilliant storyteller is his courage to disappear inside the ghosts he inherits and emerge from them with gifts that could save us. Defiant and tender-hearted, hilarious and terrifying, Devil is Fine reimagines the narrator as the ultimate talisman. Vercher has created a marvel out of grief and hope.”
—Sabrina Orah Mark, award-winning author of Happily

“In John Vercher’s profoundly moving Devil Is Fine, an unforeseen and unwanted inheritance of a long-forgotten plantation haunts a mixed-race man with the ghosts of his past and his present while they play hide-and-seek with his sanity. Vercher plays the conceit to perfection in this taut, surreal novel as the legacies of colonialism, racism, and family trauma conspire to push a good man to the very reach of his limits.”
—Ben Fountain, author of National Book Award finalist Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

“In Devil Is Fine, we meet a man searching for his soul after losing his loved ones in more ways than one. John Vercher brilliantly paints a character and a society, like our own, that has been twisted by the essential unfairness of racism. But this is also an intimate novel, by turns bracing and hilarious thanks to our observant narrator. Readers will see the American project in a new way after reading and rereading this novel.”
—Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow

“Propulsive and meticulously crafted, Devil Is Fine is full of mystery, magic, dark comedy, and heart. John Vercher writes Black father-and-son intimacies with a singular virtuosity. He also delivers a well-deserved skewering to racism in the worlds of academia and publishing. That he keeps these and other narrative balls in the air with aplomb is a brilliant feat. I loved this novel!”
—Deesha Philyaw, author of PEN/Faulkner Award–winning The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

“In Devil is Fine, John Vercher delivers masterful language and movement, with an insight into the small moments of intimacy and hatred that send chills. He dives into estrangement and race with father and son, splitting emotion with code-switching and the brick walls of violence and shame. It’s a physical writing, with vital, organic movement, always deep with the elemental. As a reader, you are in the room with these flawed characters, you are next to them, you are inside them, breathing along with them. It’s a quick drop to metaphor, a stunning, slow fall to grief, as Vercher schools us in the value of half-truths and the path to some god and the devil inside us.”
—Jan Beatty, poet, author of Dragstripping and American Bastard

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250894489
ISBN-10: 1250894484
Publisher: Celadon Books
Publication Date: June 18th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English