While completing his MFA degree at Brown University, Everett wrote his first novel, Suder (1983), about Craig Suder, a Seattle Mariners third baseman in major league slump, both on and off the field. Everett's second novel, Walk Me to the Distance (1985) features David Larson after his return from Vietnam. He becomes involved in a search for the retarded son of a sheep rancher in Slut's Whole, Wyoming. It was later adapted with an altered plot as an ABC-TV movie entitled Follow Your Heart.
In 1987, Everett published The Weather and Women Treat Me Fair: Stories, a collection of short stories. In 1990 Everett published two books re-fashioning Greek myths: Zulus, which combines the grotesque and the apocalypse; and For Her Dark Skin, a new version of Medea by the Greek playwright Euripedes.
Switching genres, Everett wrote a children's book, The One That Got Away (1992), an illustrated book for young readers that follows three cowboys as they attempt to corral "ones," the mischievous numerals.
Returning to novels, Everett published his first book-length western, God's Country, in 1994. In the novel, Curt Marder and his tracker Bubba search "God's country" for Marder's wife who has been kidnapped by bandits. He is not sure if he wants to find her. The book is a parody of westerns and the politics of race and gender, which includes a cross-dressing George Armstrong Custer).
In 1996 Everett published two books: Watershed has a contemporary western setting, in which the loner hydrologist Robert Hawkes meets a Native American "small person," who helps him come to terms with the inter-relation of people. That year he also published Big Picture, his second collection of stories.
In Frenzy (1997), Everett returned to Greek mythology. Vlepo, Dionysos' assistant, is forced to experience a "frenzy" of odd activities, including becoming lice and bedroom curtains at different times during the story, which he narrates. This occurs so he can explain what the experiences are like to Dionysos, the half-god.
Glyph (1999) is the story within a story of Ralph, a baby who chooses not to speak but has extraordinary muscle-control and an IQ nearing 500, which he uses to write notes to his mother on a variety of literary topics based on books she supplies. Ralph is kidnapped a variety of times due to his special skills, and his odyssey (as "written" by four-year-old Ralph) teaches him more about love than intellect.
Everett also published the novel Erasure in 2001. In it, he portrays how the publishing industry pigeon-holes African-American writers. The protagonist, Thelonious "Monk" Ellison, a professor of English literature, is repeatedly criticized for not writing "black enough". Ellison is angered by the success of an Oprah-like book club's selection of a novel reflecting what is supposedly contemporary black experience, but which presents a stereotypical story. He composes a satirical response based on Richard Wright's Native Son and Sapphire's novel Push, which he first entitles My Pafology before changing it to Fuck. The talk-show host, a Hollywood producer, and a panel of famous novelists, all prove more willing to accept the brutal, dehumanized black man of the novel than a middle-class intellectual like Ellison. He in turn has trouble facing impoverished blacks both real and fictional.
A History of the African-American People (proposed) by Strom Thurmond, as told to Percival Everett and James Kincaid (2004) is an epistolary novel that chronicles the characters "Percival Everett" and "James Kincaid" as they work with Thurmond (occasionally) and his aide's crazy assistant, Barton Wilkes. The latter orders the authors around even as he stalks them.
Also in 2004, Everett released American Desert and Damned If I Do: Stories, another collection of short stories. In American Desert, Ted Street plans to drown himself in the ocean but is killed in a traffic accident on the way there. Three days later, Street suddenly sits up in his casket at the funeral, although his head is severed and he lacks a beating heart. Throughout the rest of the novel, Street undergoes an odyssey of self-discovery about what being alive really means, exploring religion, revelation, faith, zealotry, love, family, media sensationalism, and death.
Wounded: A Novel (2005) tells the story of John Hunt, a horse trainer confronted with hate crimes against a homosexual and a Native American. Hunt avoids getting mixed up in the political nature of these crimes, taking action only when he is forced to do so.
The Water Cure (2007) is a novel about Ishmael Kidder, who has had a successful career as a romance novelist until the death of his daughter, when his life takes a dark turn. In a remote cabin in New Mexico, Kidder has imprisoned a man he believes to be his daughter's killer. The book's title refers to one of the torture techniques Kidder uses on the man, namely waterboarding.
In 2009, Graywolf Press released I Am Not Sidney Poitier. With the name Not Sidney Poitier and a resemblance to the actor with a similar name, the protagonist meets challenges relating to identity and racial segregation across North America. He meets similar challenges with identity construction in relation to his adopted father, Ted Turner.
Assumption: A Novel (2011) is a triptych of stories with some characters who have been in earlier Everett stories. "Big" returns to the character of Ogden Walker, deputy sheriff of a small New Mexico town. He is on the trail of an old woman’s murderer. But at the crime scene, his are the only footprints leading up to and away from her door. Something is amiss, and even his mother knows it. As other cases pile up, Ogden gives chase, pursuing flimsy leads for even flimsier reasons. His hunt leads him from the seamier side of Denver to a hippie commune as he seeks the puzzling solution.
Due in February 2013 by Graywolf Press is Percival Everett by Virgil Russell.
Everett's collection of poetry, re:f (gesture) (2006), features one of his paintings on the front cover. His latest poetry book, Swimming Swimmers Swimming, was published in 2010 by Red Hen Press.
Everett's introduction was added to the 2004 paperback edition of The Jefferson Bible.
- PEN Center USA Award for Fiction
- Academy Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters
- Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction (Erasure and I Am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel)
- New American Writing Award
- PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award
- His stories have been included in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Short Stories
- Received an honorary Doctorate in 2008 from the College of Santa Fe
- Winner of the 2010 Believer Book Award for I Am Not Sidney Poitier
- Winner of the 29th Dos Passos Prize in 2010
- Suder (1983)
- Walk Me to the Distance (1985)
- Cutting Lisa (1986)
- The Weather and Women Treat Me Fair: stories (1987)
- For Her Dark Skin (1990)
- Zulus (1990)
- The One That Got Away (1992)
- God's Country: a novel (1994)
- Big picture: stories (1996)
- Watershed (1996)
- Frenzy (1997)
- Glyph: a novel (1999)
- Erasure: a novel (2001)
- Grand Canyon, Inc. (2001)
- American desert: a novel (2004)
- Damned if I do: stories (2004)
- A History of the African-American people (proposed) by Strom Thurmond, as told to Percival Everett and James Kincaid (with James Kincaid) (2004)
- My California: Journeys by Great Writers (contributor / 2004)
- Wounded: a novel (2005)
- re:f (gesture) (2006), a collection of poetry
- The Water Cure (2007)
- I am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel (2009)
- Swimming Swimmers Swimming, a collection of poetry (2010)
- Assumption: A Novel (2011)
- Percival Everett by Virgil Russell: A Novel (2013)
- Cowles, Gregory (18 September 2005). "Fiction Chronicle". The New York Times. p. 22. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "Percival L. Everett", The University of South Carolina-Aiken.
- Cynthia Whitcomb website.
- Cutting Lisa (Voices of the South).
- Percival Everett, The One That Got Away, Emerging Writers Network, July 2009
- Toby Lichtig, "Deconstructing daddy", A review, TLS, June 6, 2004. Review-a-Day, Powell's.
- Erasure page at Graywolf Press.
- "A History of the African American People by Strom Thurmond (Part 2)". James Kincaid, Percival Everett. Project Muse.
- American Desert review.
- Alan Cheuse, "Percival Everett's 'Wounded': Winter in Wyoming", NPR, October 11, 2005.
- Jim Krusoe, "Mirror Images", review of The Water Cure: A Novel, by Percival Everett. Washington Post Book World, August 31, 2007. Review-a-Day, Powell's.
- "Review: I Am Not Sidney Poitier", Quarterly Conversation.
- Blue Flower Arts one of Everett's "official" websites
- IdentityTheory.com interview with Everett (2003)
- A USC Article about Everett
- Everett's USC Homepage
- "Object and Word" by Everett
- topolivres video interview with Everett (2008)