am fiction

American Fiction

Directed by Cord Jefferson
U.S | 2023 | Narrative
117 minutes

Jeffrey Wright stars in “American Fiction,” Cord Jefferson’s adaptation of Percival Everett’s “Erasure” – a bold comedy about the commodification of marginalized voices and a portrait of an artist forced to reexamine his integrity. Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Wright) is a respected author and professor of English literature. But his impatience with his students’ cultural sensitivities threatens his academic standing, while his latest novel fails to attract publishers who claim Monk’s writing “isn’t Black enough.” He travels to his hometown of Boston to participate in a literary festival where all eyes are on the first-time author of a bestseller titled We’s Lives In Da Ghetto, a book Monk dismisses as pandering to readers seeking stereotypical stories of Black misery. Meanwhile, Monk’s family experiences tragedy and his ailing mother requires a level of care neither he nor his complicated and self-proclaimed black sheep of a brother (Sterling K. Brown) can afford. One night, in a fit of spite, Monk concocts a pseudonymous novel, My Pafology, embodying every Black cliché he can imagine. His agent submits it to a major publisher who immediately offers the biggest advance Monk’s ever seen. As the novel is rushed to the printers and Hollywood comes courting, Monk must reckon with an identity of his own making. Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut is a wildly entertaining send-up of our hunger for so-called authenticity. Featuring stellar supporting turns from Issa Rae and Erika Alexander and a string of cheeky cameos, “American Fiction” is a timely reflection on the fictions we tell ourselves about race, progress, and community.