American Fiction review

American Fiction


The American Fiction Story is about Monk, an English professor and author, who writes a satirical novel to expose the hypocrisy surrounding Black literature within the publishing industry. However, his book becomes so famous that he finds himself even more entrenched in the world he hates.

‘American Fiction’ cleverly balances between satire and family drama making it a mesmerizing experience. With pinpoint precision, it debunks clichés associated with black culture while exposing cultural hypocrisy of today on many levels. The movie’s strong narrative combined with great acting makes it worth watching. It deals with one man’s frustration over how white liberals stereotype African-American literature as boring or empty. Also, however, the film portrays the intricacies of the writer’s immediate relatives like his mother who is down with Alzheimer’s disease. His gay brother a wanderer by nature; and his sister who works as a doctor.

All this makes for some intricate family dynamics which the film catches brilliantly. Based on Percival Everett’s Erasure,’ American Fiction’ by Cord Jefferson satirizes the publishing industry effectively and sharply. It comes slowly but heavily hits hard too just like slow punches do. This kind of comic yet insightful film has very few representatives in Hollywood now. With Alexander Payne (whose movie “The Holdovers” is also an Oscar contender) being one of them.

This story revolves around Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), an author turned college professor who feels frustrated about stereotypes in black fiction literature. Thinking that Sintara Golden’s pulp novel had become a bestseller, Monk decides to write another novel under a false name. That defies those very stereotypes so typical for such works released by Black writers themselves (Shepard 47). Nonetheless, when judges consisting mostly of white people from different social groups celebrate this work as a genius creation written by an anonymous African American person – Monk starts feeling uncomfortable because he knows that they have judged him based on race rather than merit. The money Monk receives from the novel helps to confirm his worst fears. About publishing tone-deafness towards black authors but also helps him to cater for his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease.

There are few words to describe Jeffrey Wright’s performance as Monk, other than brilliant and deserving of his Best Actor Oscar nomination. Wright brings intelligence and passion to a writer struggling with negative portrayals of African Americans in literature. In addition, Tracee Ellis Ross’ brief appearance as Monk’s sister is mesmerizing in itself. Few recent films have ever shown such a genuine sibling relationship as this one did. It would only be a disappointment that Lisa has very few scenes in the film. Sterling K. Brown (Clifford) and Issa Rae (Sintara Golden) who plays an author both give excellent performances too.

Debut director Cord Jefferson deserves credit for how he handles this entire movie with gentleness. Where we can see how Monk juggles between work life and personal life simultaneously. All things considered, it’s graceful enough to articulate on film that could actually stand alone without any dialogue needed. Joyful yet touching, it carries humor so subtle that none like it has ever been seen before among future comedies of its kind (Kingsley 98). It is just one of those movies that you never want to end because even after they are over their characters still resonate in your mind.“American Fiction” is an unmissable cinematic experience.’

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