Erasure

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Erasure

By Percival Everett (2001)

This story is like a novel within a novel. Percival Everett has a unique way of writing that his storyline is always very different and he puts his readers to see things in a different light. He presents a biting satire on the way race is handled in the US – the constant stereotyping of black people that obtains – not only by white people but by black people themselves.

Thelonius “Monk” Ellison is a black writer. His books are always put in the African-American section in bookshops, even when they are about Greek myths. He has an extreme dislike for celebrated novels like We’s lives in da ghetto by Juanita Mae Jenkins, with its stereotyped depiction of black culture, hackneyed plots and over the top use of black idioms. He finds all these to be untrue as it perpetuates the myths that black men are either sportsmen, musicians or drug dealers or rapist.

Out of desperation, he writes a typical sterotyped African American novel called “My Pafology” under a name called “Stagg R.Legih” as he is ashamed to use his own name. The novel surprisingly become  very popular. Monk is surprised to discover that his angry parody is immediately snapped up. He changes the name to Fuck in an attempt to put the publishers off, but they agree. It becomes a bestseller. It is nominated for a national award. It becomes the talk of the literary world and Stagg R. Leigh is the most sought after author in the country.

Fuck is a short story about a 19 year African American Van Go Jenkins. Jenkin’s attitude is I don’t give a fuck about nobody, not you, not my Mama, not the man. The world don’t give a fuck about nobody, so why would I?” Some 70 pages later, Van Go’s crime spree ends in his brutal arrest. It goes about an unplanned and aimless life of Jenkins going about wanting to have sex and babies with women of all ages.

I guess this book is like a sarcasm that it is not whether it is a junk novel or not, people like what they read or what they already stereotyped. Sometimes, there is no reason or rationality in such matters.

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