Devil Is Fine: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Devil Is Fine: A Novel (Hardcover)


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From acclaimed novelist John Vercher, a profoundly moving novel of what it means to be a father, a son, a writer, and a biracial American fighting to reconcile the past

Reeling from the sudden death of his teenage son, our narrator receives a letter from an attorney: he has just inherited a plot of land from his estranged grandfather. He travels to a beach town several hours south of his home with the intention of immediately selling the land. But upon inspection, what lies beneath the dirt is much more than he can process in the throes of grief. As a biracial Black man struggling with the many facets of his identity, he’s now the 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 discovery—and a fight for reclamation—of a painful past. With the wit of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and the nuance of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, Devil Is Fine is a darkly funny and brilliantly crafted dissection of the legacies we leave behind and those we inherit.

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

"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

"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