When a literary book agent tells his brilliant but less exciting author to write about “Black stuff,” he writes a successful novel titled “My Pafology” full of “dead beat Dads, rappers and crack.”
That’s the premise of the new comedy MGM and Orion Pictures film, “American Fiction” from writer, director and producer Cord Jefferson, and the recent winner of the Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award.
Based on the novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett, the film stars Jeffrey Wright as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison,” a frustrated novelist who is fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment that relies on tired narratives and themes. After he writes an outlandish book making fun of the offensive tropes, his success propels him into the center of hypocrisy. The film also stars Sterling K. Brown as Monk’s gay brother, who recently came out of the closet, Issa Rae as a successful and respected Black author whom Monk resents, and Erika Alexander as his neighbor and love interest. Also among the ensemble cast are John Ortiz, Adam Brody and Leslie Uggams.
In his review, Peter Debruge of Variety wrote that “American Fiction” is about the unfairness of asking individual artists to represent the entire Black experience. As such, it’s better to read the film as a window into Monk’s white-collar reality.”
Under the production banners of MRC, T-Street Production, An Almost Infinite and 3 Arts, “American Fiction” is also produced by Jefferson, Ben LeClair, Nikos Karamigios and Jermaine Johnson. Oscar-nominee Rian Johnson, Ram Bergman, Percival Everett and Michael Bowes serve as executive producers.
“American Fiction” will open in select theaters on Dec. 15 before expanding on Dec. 22.