Erasure by Percival Everett
A Novel

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Percival Everett’s Erasure is a blistering satire about race and writing

Thelonious "Monk" Ellison’s writing career has bottomed out: his latest manuscript has been rejected by seventeen publishers, which stings all the more because his previous novels have been "critically acclaimed." He seethes on the sidelines of the literary establishment as he watches the meteoric success of We’s Lives in Da Ghetto, a first novel by a woman who once visited "some relatives in Harlem for a couple of days." Meanwhile, Monk struggles with real family tragedies—his aged mother is fast succumbing to Alzheimer’s, and he still grapples with the reverberations of his father’s suicide seven years before.

In his rage and despair, Monk dashes off a novel meant to be an indictment of Juanita Mae Jenkins’s bestseller. He doesn’t intend for My Pafology to be published, let alone taken seriously, but it is—under the pseudonym Stagg R. Leigh—and soon it becomes the Next Big Thing. How Monk deals with the personal and professional fallout galvanizes this audacious, hysterical, and quietly devastating novel.


About Percival Everett

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Percival Everett is the Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of more than twenty books, including Assumption, Erasure, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, The Water Cure, Wounded, and Glyph; three collections of short fiction; and one book of poetry. He is the recipient of the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the 2006 PEN Center USA Award for Fiction. He lives on his ranch in the mountains outside Los Angeles.
Published October 25, 2011 by Graywolf Press. 292 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Romance, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Meanwhile, he must cope with his mother's rapid decline, his gay brother's sudden animosity, and the discovery among his father's papers of letters indicating not only that Dad had a white mistress long ago, but that Monk has a half-sister his age.

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The New York Times

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While there, sifting through the detritus of his family drama, Monk finds himself obsessed with the overwhelming success of another African-American writer's best seller, ''We's Lives in da Ghetto.'' He is appalled that the novel's young, middle-class, Oberlin-educated author based her book's so-...

Oct 07 2001 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel

The Guardian

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Erasure, by Percival Everett (Faber, £7.99) Thelonious Ellison, an intellectual novelist and academic, who happens to be black, finds his works increasingly marginalised, increasingly unsellable, because the reviewers say things like this: "The novel is finely crafted, with fully developed ch...

Jan 17 2004 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel

The Guardian

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Erasure by Percival Everett 240pp, Faber, £14.99 Percival Everett's experimental novels have been associated with calls for an alternative American literature in defiance of what is seen as the east-coast literary establishment.

Apr 19 2003 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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The final indignity occurs when Ellison becomes a judge for a major book award and My Pafology (title changed to Fuck) gets nominated, forcing the author to come to terms with his perverse literary joke.

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The Wall Street Journal

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Monk, who rejects racial distinctions, is portrayed as the contemporary invisible man, black in the eyes of the white world, not "black enough" in the black world.

Oct 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel

Book Reporter

A murder, family secrets revealed, and his mother's worsening condition all swirl around Monk as his literary transformation unfolds.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel


I’ll confess that Percival Everett’s was a name unknown to me before accepting this novel for review, but it turns out Everett is an established figure, with over 20 books out there, including I Am Not Sidney Poitier, American Desert and Swimming Swimming Swimming.

Feb 13 2012 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel

London Review of Books

We’s Lives in Da Ghetto is a fictional fiction modelled on more than one recent rendering of ghetto life, and has just been made a Book Club Selection on the Kenya Dunston Show (‘Girl, that is some writing,’ Kenya says).

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For all its bitter bite the novel – intentionally, I suspect – works best, or is at least at its most potent and affecting, when it is at its simplest and Erasure contains within it, beneath the satirical blanket, a moving portrait of a son coming to terms with his mother’s life – her having live...

Jan 22 2004 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel

APOOO Bookclub

I picked up this book because of the cover but it’s the storyline from page 1 through page 265 which kept me quickly turning the pages.

Nov 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Erasure: A Novel

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