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Erasureby Percival L. Everett
Synopses & Reviews
Percival Everett's most recent novel, the academic satire Glyph, was hailed by the New York Times as "both a treatise and a romp." His new novel combines a touching story of a man coming to terms with his family heritage and a satiric indictment of race and publishing in America.
Avant-garde novelist and college professor, woodworker, and fly fishermanâ€”Thelonious (Monk) Ellison has never allowed race to define his identity. But as both a writer and an African-American, he is offended and angered by the success of We's Lives in Da Ghetto, the exploitative debut novel of a young, middle-class black woman who once visited "some relatives in Harlem for a couple of days." Hailed as an authentic representation of the African-American experience, the book is a national bestseller and its author feted on the Kenya Dunston television show. Her book's success rankles all the more as Monk's own most recent novel has just notched its seventh rejection.
Even as his career as a writer appears to have stalled, Monk finds himself coping with changes in his personal life. Forced to assume responsibility for a mother rapidly succumbing to Alzheimer's, Monk leaves his home in Los Angeles to return to the Washington, DC house in which he grew up. There he must come to terms with his ailing mother, his siblings, his own childhood and youth, and the legacy of his physician father, a suicide some seven years before. In need of distraction from old memories, new responsibilities, and his professional stagnation, Monk composes, in a heat of inspiration and energy, a fierce parody of the sort of exploitative, ghetto wanna-be lit represented by We's Lives in Da Ghetto.
But when his agent sends this literary indictment (included here in its entirety) out to publishers, it is greeted as an authentic new voice of black America. Monk — or his pseudonymous alter ego, Stagg R. Leigh — is offered money, fame, success beyond anything Monk has known. And as demand begins to build for meetings with and appearances by Leigh, Monk is faced with a whole new set of problems.
"More genuine and tender than much of Everett's previous work, but no less impressive intellectually: a high point in an already substantial literary career." Kirkus Reviews
"A scathingly funny look at racism and the book business: editors, publishers, readers, and writers alike." Booklist
"With equal measure of sympathy and satire, Erasure craftily addresses the highly charged issue of being 'black enough' in America." New York Times Book Review
Hailed by the New York Times as "both a treatise and a romp," a bold and brilliant novel of a man coming to terms with himself.
Now in paperback, this provocative tale within a tale details the life of avant-garde novelist and college professor Thelonious "Monk" Ellison. Monk, frustrated with his dismal book sales, composes a fierce parody of exploitative ghetto literature entitled My Pafology, which is greeted by critics as the work of a great new voice and garners him the success that he covets. Monk's impending struggle with his moral principles emerges as a revolutionary and riotous indictment of race and publishing in America.
In this novel of family, race, and publishing in America, an African-American novelist finds money, fame and success when he writes a fierce parody of exploitative ghetto literature.
About the Author
Percival Everett is a professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of 14 books, including Glyph, Frenzy, Watershed, and Suder. He lives in Los Angeles.
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