“A clever and charming satire about race and literature”

Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, as played by Jeffrey Wright, is a serious, thoughtful guy who has written a few serious, thoughtful novels. On the downslope of middle age, he finds himself ignored by the publishing world and book-readers alike. Worse than that, Monk sees his own carefully-crafted literary work eclipsed by the success of “Black” fiction that caters to make that panders to the comfortable biases of white liberals where ghetto stereotypes are perceived as the only genuine depictions of African-American life.

To counter this expectation, Monk turns to his strongest weapon, his writer’s pen. In protest and perhaps seeking a little personal catharsis, he writes a ridiculous new novel that plays into these most egregious tropes of Black life. Then, rather than have his satirical point understood, Monk’s new novel, and the alter ego he created to author the book, both become hot properties in the New York publishing world and eventually in the TV and movie echo chambers of Hollywood.

Screenwriter Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut is a hilarious, sharp-edged black comedy-drama, positively dripping with irony and multiple levels of sarcasm. Adapted from Erasure, Percival Everett’s novel in diary form, American Fiction takes on issues of identity, racial stereotyping, and the role of literature in either telling minorities’ stories or pigeonholing them.

Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, Keith David, with Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown

Updated: December 9, 2023 — 11:48 pm