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I Am Not Sidney Poitier

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,279 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
I Am Not Sidney Poitier is an irresistible comic novel from the master storyteller Percival Everett, and an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America

I was, in life, to be a gambler, a risk-taker, a swashbuckler, a knight. I accepted, then and there, my place in the world. I was a fighter of windmills. I was a chaser of whales. I was Not Sidney Poitier.

Not Sid
ebook, 272 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Graywolf Press (first published 2009)
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Sentimental Surrealist
Part of this is a great comedic novel, which blends satire (more on that in a minute), absurdism (the dialog between Everett's vision of Ted Turner and Everett's parody of himself are hilarious examples of how much comedic mileage can be gotten out of two bizarre characters acting bizarre around each other), and pop culture riffs (true to the title, you get parodies of at least three Sidney Poitier movies in this book - I picked up on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Lilies of the Field and, of ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Mmars rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
It's unfortunate that a lot of people read this book thinking it’s going to be a "funny" book. It's not. It's satire. A biting satire on race that could make many a reader squirm. Yes, there is a running joke on “I am not Sidney Poitier and I am Not Sidney Poitier” and you groan every time you see it coming. But even that joke made a statement on individuality and race.

Percival Everett, born in 1956, undoubtedly remembers Sidney Poitier’s movies being beamed into white America’s living rooms in
Margaret Gillette
Wow. I have no idea what happened but I loved this book. I wish I had someone to explain it to me. Little bits sink in here and there, ferment and then I'll be somewhere random like class or at work and - oh *&&^! I understand that part now.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this book - that is completely beside the point (and this is, therefore, a completely appropriate non-sequitir) is that the character of Ted Turner, who we assume to be Not Ted Turner, is remarkably like me. If yo
Cheryl Klein
Nov 14, 2009 Cheryl Klein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is crazy. It MIGHT be about the arbitrariness of race and fortune and other identities, but there's such a firm commitment to nonsense in these pages (a Morehouse prof named Percival Everett teaches an indecipherable class called The Philosophy of Nonsense) that I'm not sure Percival Everett (the author, that is) even wants me to come to a conclusion. One part Don Quixote, one part Huckleberry Finn, this novel is a patchwork of allusions and genres. I can easily get turned off by such ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Shay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Damn. Throughout this book I was thinking "this is pretty great, quite clever, poignant" etc etc. And then the last few pages hit me, right in the stomach. Is he Not Sidney Poitier or not Sidney Poitier? Outside of LA, outside of where he and his money are known, the way Not is treated and the situations he finds himself in are appalling. Sidney Poitier's roles included these same (literally, as the novel employs references to so many of his movies - which I found super enjoyable) scenarios. And ...more
Dec 11, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, drama
When a boy is named Not Sidney by his eccentric mother, you can see how this would cause some problems with other kids in the neighborhood and at school. "“What’s your name?” a kid would ask. “Not Sidney,” I would say. “Okay, then what is it?” This usually resulted in Not Sidney getting beaten to a pulp.

When his mother passes away, he discovers that he's inherited a lot of money, she being a major shareholder in Ted Turner's company. Ted, an executor to his mother's will, brings him home to Atla
Don Hackett
Nov 04, 2011 Don Hackett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Or maybe 4 1/2. This is one of the funniest books I have read recently. The setup is a boy named Not Sidney Poitier, orphaned when his mother dies. His mother, though she worked a menial job, had invested her money (including $30,000 from a Worker's Comp settlement) in a little company called Turner Communications; this is one rich orphan. Ted Turner gives the boy a home--not Ted's, but a cabin on the grounds of Turner's estate. He is provided with tutors and caretakers, has the opportunity to c ...more
John Pappas
Jul 27, 2011 John Pappas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A hilarious romp -- probably the funniest novel I've read since Russo's Straight Man, and definitely the funniest "experimental" novel since Barth's Sot-weed Factor. The protagonist of I Am Not Sidney Poitier is a young black man named Not Sidney Poitier who looks just like the actor Sidney Poitier, is "adopted" by Ted Turner, teaches himself how to "Fesmerize" (not Mesmerize) people and is plunged into a series of misadventures that resemble the plots of Sidney Poitier movies. This satire brill ...more
Apr 29, 2010 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 21st-century
I've found Erasure, Wounded, and now this novel, all in very and impressively different ways unsettling and utterly compelling explorations of problems of identity in relation to class, race, and other social divisions, and the violence bound up with them. This novel unsettles hilariously. The characters of Ted Turner and Percival Everett are terrific. Like Not Sidney, neither of them seem to have found a role they're completely comfortable playing either, but they muddle through cheerfully, rid ...more
Jan 13, 2012 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dan by: Patty and Patrick
Rarely do I come across a book that I truly do not want to end. This book is one of them (the last I can recall prior to this was Lonesome Dove). IaNSP is simply a ton of fun to read.

I've not yet read any of Everett's other works but will certainly be doing so in the coming weeks.
Chris Horne
Feb 16, 2011 Chris Horne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 12-for-2011
Last Friday, a half hour after I finished reading Percival Everett's "I Am Not Sidney Poitier," the UPS man walked up the stairs on our front porch and laid down a package containing the next book I'm going to read. It's also a Percival Everett novel, "Erasure." I'm already halfway through meaning it's time to place an order for my next Everett work, either "Glyph" or "A History of the African-American People (proposed) by Strom Thurmond, as told to Percival Everett and James Kincaid."

Either way
Jamilla Rice
Jun 27, 2012 Jamilla Rice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this yesterday, but was too high on oxy (yes, it is my prescription and it’s legal--sprained ankle) to write the review. Although, it WOULD have been interesting. You could say that I wasn't myself yesterday. Which would have been so fitting, considering the content of this novel.

Bildungsroman, odyssey, social commentary, confessional, fan fiction, picaresque pictorial, call to action . . . this novel does so much, so elegantly, so deftly—sleight of words, is how I'd describe it. So m
Ubik 2.0
Non sono Percival Everett

Dopo “Cancellazione” e “Ferito”, Everett riprende i suoi temi prediletti e il suo stile particolarissimo, sovradosando a mio avviso il tasto bizzarro e non-sense, a partire dal titolo che dà luogo a continui scambi di battute, inizialmente divertenti ma a lungo andare ripetitivi e a volte stucchevoli.

Punti di forza restano i dialoghi frizzanti e la trama dall’andamento imprevedibile e stuzzicante che evita la noia nonostante la sensazione di dejà-vu (“Cancellazione”) che
May 25, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Scales
This is another 3.5 book. But Ted Turner's dialogue gets 5 stars.

You know, I don't know what to say. This is an ambitious novel, and some interesting tricks are being used here, but I'm not sure how well they're working. Everett's novel relies on the reader being capable of catching the references to actual Sidney Poitier novels, as Not Sidney winds up in situations straight out of In The Heat of the Night, The Defiant Ones, etc. otherwise there's a lot of running to google. But even if you get
Oct 19, 2011 Eugene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
a hoot and at least a few halves. question for anyone: how true a confession do you think when the everett xter says he didn't like writing ERASURE and didn't like it when he was done with it (226). anyway. devoured this picaresque romp. not quite as funny as i expected but that was probably my/hype's fault.
Aug 05, 2011 Les rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. Clever, brilliant, and hilarious.
4- 4.5

Will not be my last Everett.

Thanks Patty and Slowrabbit!
Danielle DeSantis
It has been quite some time that I read something that I didn't want to end.
Raül De Tena
Jun 12, 2013 Raül De Tena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Desde su propio título, “No Soy Sidney Poitier” (editado en nuestro país por Blackie Books) apela al absurdo y al cachondeo. Porque, además del título de esta novela de Percival Everett, ganadora del Believer Book Award en el año 2009, No Soy Sidney Poitier también es el nombre del protagonista. Esto viene a arrojar continuos juegos de lógica sobre todo lo que ocurre en la novela, porque evidentemente el personaje no es Sidney Poitier y su madre, Poitier de apellido, le puso No Soy Sidney como n ...more
Jun 06, 2012 Kirstie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My mom, those interested in race and experimental fiction
This is a good example of experimental fiction working! It's really more like a 4 1/2 star novel. It offers equal parts adventure and an examination of racial prejudice/discrimination. Not Sidney Poitier is the main character, which in and of itself sparks a great deal of hilarity whenever he is asked his name. He's an African American boy whose mother invested some money and made him incredibly wealthy, then named media legend Ted Turner as executor of her will when she passed away while Not Si ...more
Aug 12, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, book-club
This was a book club selection under the "Happy Books" category. I would call it a comedic novel.

One of the earliest literary traditions is allegory, where the author creates a character to act as a straight man or foil in contrived situations, the outcome of which are supposed to teach us something. Some allegories are comedic (Candide), some are tragic (Oedipus Rex). If I'm going to read about contrived characters in contrived situations ... just as a personal preference, mind you ... I want t
Apr 01, 2010 Darryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Am Not Sidney Poitier, the latest book by Everett, a distinguished professor of English at USC, is a hilarious novel about Not Sidney Poitier, who was given that name by his eccentric mother Portia. Her pgnancy lasts for 104 weeks before she gives birth to him in public view on a street in inner city Los Angeles. Not Sidney never learns who his father is, or why his mother chose that name for him. Although Portia is certifiably "crazy", she is fabulously wealthy, after she invests her savings ...more
Aaron Mcquiston
Nov 10, 2013 Aaron Mcquiston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graywolf
Not Sidney Poitier, the main narrator in Percival Everett's book, "I Am Not Sidney Poitier" is one of the funniest characters I've read in a long time. After being in the womb for two years, Not Sidney Poitier is born and goes through a tremendous amount of adventure. "I An Not Sidney Poitier" is a road novel that does not get anywhere. Anytime he leaves home, bad things happen, bad things that slightly resemble the plots to Sidney Poitier movies. I caught "In the Heat of the Night", "Guess Who' ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Gini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gini
Interesting book. Unusual book too. Amazing vocabulary, but one that isn't used to demean the reader.
So what happens when you take several of Portier's movies, give them a bit of a twist, and drop them into a novel about a young man discovering his identity repeatedly by becoming the characters in those movies and finally the star himself? You get this book. Does it work? Well, yes I think so anyway. That's my take on what the author was doing. BTW is Not Sydney possibly a version of Mary Willi
Jim Leckband
Jan 04, 2011 Jim Leckband rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just loved this crazy book. Its structure is kinda loosely tied to Sidney Poitier movies - which adds a resonance to the novelist's themes of identity and race. This is because Sidney Poitier's films in the 50's through the 70's arguably presented a template of how Americans should see black men. Whether this template is right or wrong is up to debate of course, but still it exists and this book grapples with it.

That being said, you don't need to know the movies to enjoy the book, in fact it c
Nov 01, 2014 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By turns an excruciating and uproariously funny take on race and class and, in its best sequence at a DC Thanksgiving dinner, both at the same time. And his caricature of an endlessly digressive Ted Turner captures exactly what six-year me, watching the Braves on the floor in Macon, thought of the man every time he showed up in the TBS booth (a digression in and of itself).

I think I am going to read some non-fiction after Murakami into Everett just so I can be absolutely sure what is going on f
Sep 15, 2012 Mswallow rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book club selection. We were searching for a funny/happy book to read. For me this wasn't it. I didn't find the book humorous or engaging. I did finish it but reading it felt more like a chore.

I found the story disjointed and non-sensical. The main character was not likable or even well developed. Perhaps this book is too cerebral for me. Someone in book club pointed out that Not Sidney's adventures were similar to plots in Sidney Poitier movies... perhaps reading the book through th
Aug 07, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be the first book I've ever finished and immediately wanted to begin again. Highlights include a pitch-perfect Ted Turner and a tense, hilarious Thanksgiving dinner in DC. Everett provides satire at its best--avoiding oversimplification while providing ridiculous absurdity. Naming the main character Not Sidney was brilliant. While I imagine it's helpful to have seen some Poitier films before reading this, I still thoroughly enjoyed it without having seen any.

Alexander Hardy
Sep 22, 2016 Alexander Hardy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant damn writing. There's a scene when Not Sidney Poitier has an encounter with some orphaned white kids in the country that had me crying, struggling to get through between fits of laugher on the train. Masterful book, great character development, hilarious dialogue. So glad I discovered Percival Everett's writing because I now want to read everything he's ever written.
John Warren
Dec 28, 2015 John Warren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With all honesty this book is a hilarity, but at the same time dead serious. It runs through a very serious theme, racism back then. Yes, I am awfully concerned every time Not is arrested for just being black (gasp), seriously. The ending is oddly unsatisfying of course, tell me he is not Sidney Poitier. Tell me Not Sidney Poitier is not Sidney Poitier!
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Percival L. Everett (born 1956) is an American writer and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

There might not be a more fertile mind in American fiction today than Everett’s. In 22 years, he has written 19 books, including a farcical Western, a savage satire of the publishing industry, a children’s story spoofing counting books, retellings of the Greek myths
More about Percival Everett...

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“Read. Always read. No one can take that away from you.” 19 likes
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