Erasure. A Novel. Percival Everett. Erasure. download cover image. “With equal measures of sympathy and satire, [Erasure] craftily addresses. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood Misery by Stephen King The Shining by Stephen King Erasure by Percival Everett Possession by A.S. Byatt. When I first read Percival Everett’s Erasure, it was assigned to me by Gregory Pardlo. Years removed from his Pulitzer Prize, Pardlo was a.

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Everett posed erashre question that remains unanswered 15 years later, although the argument is louder, or more visible, than ever: Who is qualified erazure write about underrepresented communities? I have heard this mainly about my novels, from editors who have rejected me and reviewers whom I have apparently confused and, on a couple of occasions, on a basketball court when upon missing a shot I muttered Egads.

Though he shares his name with two African-American artists, Monk tries to distance himself from what passes as African-American art in the present day. The way you see things.

errasure Throughout the story, Monk is forced to confront the success of We Lives in the Ghettoa fictional book written by Juanita Mae Jenkins, which is lauded by critics and owes its success through its inclusion of prostitution, underage pregnancy, and violence.

Everett lays out the two major pitfalls of navigating author authenticity. The first deals with the stress writers of color deal when navigating their own narratives.

Assumption and Erasure By Percival Everett

He aims for the manuscript to be so emphatically rejected, for it to completely insult every person who turns its pages that Monk can then point to it as proof that the black experience in America is not universal. He banks on these people in power, the Gatekeepers of the publishing world, being able to identify his obvious dishonesty. He wants to be found a liar. But of course, My Pafology become regarded as an opus of the African-American experience.

As his own personal narrative unravels, Monk accepts the book deal as the offer price soars, and even dresses up to pose as the walking stereotype and author of My PafologyStagg R. By becoming the writer he hates, Monk becomes an extension of the industry bigotry he was intending to fight. Everett paints the people in the publishing world and academic circles, who aid Monk in his self-immolation, as completely out of touch with reality.

They are imbecilic, cartoonishly naive. In the current literary world, there are failsafes built into the process of publication to manage author authenticity, although they are not absolute. We can plan parades for the new emerging voices, but a James Frey or, more recently, a Michael Derrick Hudson will come around to disrupt the common order. Hudson found himself sitting on a poem which had been rejected on his count 40 times by publishers.

So he changed the name — not of the poem, but his own. Alexie made the decision to pay special attention to underrepresented demographics, namely women and people of color. No matter what his intent was, he admitted to using a standard with very poor checks in place for success, which was exactly the fallacy practiced by the editors and publishers who greenlighted Stagg R. It is in these moments in which those who prepare to combat bias begin by performing a bias of their own, and this is the trap Alexie set his bed on.

The problem, as the Yi-Fen Chou case demonstrates, is that this accommodation can be a tricky business when our ideas about excellence in poems collide with our ideas about the worthiness of poets. This exposes a major flaw in artistic perception in publishing. In Erasureeveryone is fooled by Stagg R. So what is different from the world Erasure shows us and our world now? When Erasure was published, the power and reach of the Internet were vastly different from today. Reddit and Twitter have become socially acceptable places to air grievances and watch them either garner support or get ripped apart.


The comments section of articles are modern-day gladiator arenas wherein combatants thrash their opponents, helmets of anonymity firmly fastened. It is in these arenas, ones which were basically absent in the world Monk inhabited, that a parallel set of Gatekeepers has grown eeasure voice and influence.

What Percival Everett’s ‘Erasure’ Can Tell Us about Authenticity

Now everyone can afford a soapbox. And while, the result is not always productive, there has been no greater time than now for social injustices to come to light with relative immediacy.

A perfect recent example is the publication of the book Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winterswhich has garnered attention primarily because of the glowing write-up it received in The New York Times. The story percivql the journey of Victor at some points also known as Jim: But critics took issue with the fact that Winters, a white author, is not only writing about slavery but also choosing to carry the voice and perspective of a black man.

The backlash on social media was instantaneous. Yet this immediate public reaction is the drasure of our current culture. This is what Everett was missing in Erasure. And yes, while I tell my classes that if everyone is shouting, stomping their feet, and clapping their hands, the actual amount of progress during a debate is limited — there is still something valuable in the opportunity for a variety of voices to weigh in.

While working on the first draft of this essay, my first contribution to The Millions was published. What excited me the most was that the comments even delved into percivall current fascination with author authenticity. With a quick scroll of the page, questions arose regarding the standards of gatekeepers within the African-American literary community. One even went as far to state that, much like Monk himself, Beatty was both the self-aware victim having to cater to a low-set bar, and a willing manifestation of the irony: The intervening 15 years have seen further missteps as we try to determine the answer.

But the conversation is moved forward, frasure discordantly, by the new guard of people thinking about art and equality. Alcy Leyva is a Bronx-born writer out of New York. His literary essays and reviews have been selected in The Millions and Fjords Review, with his most recent being translated into Italian.

He is currently writing a book about his life erasuge would make a terrible movie. You can follow his calculated musings on Twitter SmilingDarkly. The other aspect being: The thing to remember: Why is she getting these limitless free passes?

If we accept the premise of the original essay in brief, with some necessary trimming, and the true hearts of its more vigilant souls, that: Augustine to write a fleshed-out and published rebuttal to this piece?

Or is that maybe a little to democratic? Good Gawd, man… my rants are one-offs! Laugh Also, things are too hectic over here for me to knuckle down and do something essayistically polished for publication, whether or not The Millions staff were temporarily insane or careless enough to ask me to.

What Percival Everett’s ‘Erasure’ Can Tell Us about Authenticity – The Millions

That the authenticity debate has been relatively improved in the fifteen years perccival Erasure and Underground Airlines? My instinct is that they have merely made the discussions louder, without evfrett the quality of conversation, though maybe they have. The eferett comments field between Mr. Augustine and [that eastern European commenter whose name I forget] was that rarest of internet birds: I have read Everett, a skillful and astute satirist.


Monk delivers in a mocking send up of publishers. As Augustine says, writers can write about anything. The world is their oyster. But no doubt i am missing some important point that is staring me in the face. One more thing, the commenters here are not gladiators in a ring, they are a wide group of people all over the world who sometimes connect on this site.

You will find the gladiators over in The Guardian comment section, its like road rage over there. Imagine that world replacing this awfulness that Zuckerberg and his ilk have tapped into with something more thoughtful. When the noisy crowd at the agora got too silly, the oligarchs just waited things out and moved the substantive discussion to the backrooms and got done whatever needing doing. Yet the myth that has persisted is that of the law of big numbers as applied to public discoursenamely, all those tweeting, liking, and never dis-liking voices will somehow result in felicitous enlightenment and a greater refinement of the broader culture.

Immediate public reaction is what it always has been: Exclamation mark cuckoo land!!! What benefited that previous discussion was not the fact that it was on the internet, but that everybody involved was intent on figuring out the stated problem. Or, short of figuring it out, hacking away at the fallacies and confirmation biases involved to bring it into some manageable form.

It also reinforced my own belief that elegant solutions to complex problems continue to be within reach in the age of Like Tyranny, and that, given the nature of things, the path to those solutions is NOT typically or particularly democratic. It illustrates the pain that ensues when the deliberative process is truncated and the more discriminating brains at the agora capitulate under all the noise.

Assumption and Erasure By Percival Everett | Quarterly Conversation

The point is to keep the conversation going forward in some more or less identifiably constructive fashion. I mean, consider the alternative: Imaginative fiction, stripped of its power as potent stimulant of imagination and empathy for the sake of evereth political expediency or, worse, sales figures. What easure Stephen call it up there? Thanks for this, Mr. Your brain needs to be in this mix as much as possible.

Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. The Millions’ future depends on your support. Become a member today. In the world that I grew up, books — at least certain books — were seen as something dangerous, something to be wary of and keep at a distance if possible.

Persistent images of isolation can be used to weaken female power by giving the impression that there are no tried-and-tested models of intellectual collaboration between women. Like Reagan to Carter: Augustine — bit of a rough patch but all is well-ish. Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Sebald’s narrators embody the submerged paranoia of living with the awareness of global warming.

That was the last thing I expected to hear. The good ship Literary Fiction pdrcival run aground and the survivors are frantically ecerett toward the islands of genre. Justin Cronin has produced the vampire evreett The Passage.