Book Club: Let’s Talk About Erase, by Percival Everett

It’s not often that the Academy Awards give the publishing industry some something to chew on. But at this year’s Oscars — which takes place on Sunday night — one of the Best Picture contenders is all about book publishing: Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction” is an adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 novel “Erasure,” and it amounts to a scathing, satirical indictment of publishers, readers, and the insidious biases the marketplace can impose in determining who tells what stories.

Of course we recommend the film. But even more so, we recommend Everett’s novel. In this week’s episode, MJ Franklin of Book Review discusses the book with his colleagues Joumana Khatib, also of the Book Review, and Reggie Ugwu, a pop culture reporter at The Times. Warning: There are many spoilers for both the book and the movie.

Have you read “Erasure” or seen “American Fiction” or both? We would like to know what you thought of it. Share your reactions in the comments and we’ll try to join the conversation.

We help you on your way:

Joumana Khatib: ‘I had read Percival Everett before. I love seeing his thoughts on the page. He’s funny, he’s irreverent, he’s sarcastic. There is no one who writes like him. And I have to tell you that ‘Erasure’ totally blew me away just because of the sheer number of textures in this book. … It’s clearly a parody novel. It’s obviously incredibly satirical and it’s just outrageous enough that it keeps the momentum going without feeling schlocky or shticky. …

Reggie Ugwu: “He has a great sense of pace, like he never wastes time. …You can tell that this is the work of a very refined and mature writer who knows exactly what to leave on the page and exactly what to leave out. There are times when I marveled at him jumping the plot forward in just a few lines.

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