So you want Black representation in novels? Well, only a certain kind of Black story will sell in American Fiction. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk in the trailer for Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut. He’s a poindexter writer type, frustrated by the fact that stereotypical “urban” novels dominate the Black book market. Nothing could have prepared him for a stop on Sintara Golden’s (Issa Rae) book tour, where the Oberlin-educated writer slips into cartoonish AAVE to read an excerpt from her latest. “Where are our stories? Where is our representation?” she says before reading, “Yo, Sharonda! Girl, you be pregnant again?” A white woman in the audience gives a standing ovation.
Monk might be just as upset over the minstrel-lite best sellers as he is over the fact that his own professorial books consistently flop. His ire leads him to jokingly write My Pafology, a book about a hardened gangster, based on the “true story” of his alter ego and pen name Stagg R. Leigh. To his shock, a publisher picks it up. Now, he must become the thing hates — a person who monetizes “Blackness” for white consumption. Worse, a white man just explained what a durag is on a call to discuss the book’s movie poster. The checks clearing might not be enough to tolerate all this. Jefferson’s satire is based on Erasure, Percival Everett’s 2001 novel. American Fiction lands in theaters in December. Stay tuned for real-life publishers asking, “Wait, is this movie about us?”