All posts tagged: kinds of close connection

“American Fiction” Is More Than a Racial Satire

“American Fiction” Is More Than a Racial Satire

[ad_1] Who decides what qualifies as a “masterpiece of African American literature”? The question is central to an audacious scheme that unfolds in Erasure, a 2001 novel by Percival Everett about a Black professor of English named Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, whose high-concept retellings of Greek classics haven’t endeared him to a wide readership. Monk is beguiled by rave reviews of a novel called We’s Lives in Da Ghetto, which earns praise for its “haunting verisimilitude” in depicting the ghetto “in all its exotic wonder.” The author resolves to conduct an experiment: He writes a stereotype-driven manuscript meant to reflect the racist appetite of the white publishing industry, then instructs his agent to submit it to book editors for consideration. And so begins the saga of My Pafology, a ribald anti-bildungsroman about a violent, fatherless 19-year-old whose own mother calls him “human slough,” which Monk publishes under the pseudonym “Stagg R. Leigh.” Monk’s satirical exercise thrusts Stagg into the literary limelight as the industry lavishes praise on the book’s gritty rendering of an ostensibly authentic Black …