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

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It’s not often that the Academy Awards give the publishing world any gristle to chew on. But at this year’s Oscars ceremony — taking place on Sunday evening — one of the Best Picture contenders is all about book publishing: Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction” is adapted from the 2001 novel “Erasure,” by Percival Everett, and it amounts to a scathing, satirical indictment of publishers, readers and the insidious biases that the marketplace can impose in determining who tells what stories.

Obviously, we recommend the movie. But even more, we recommend Everett’s novel. In this week’s episode, the Book Review’s MJ Franklin discusses the book with his colleagues Joumana Khatib, also from the Book Review, and Reggie Ugwu, a pop culture reporter at The Times. Caution: Spoilers abound for both the book and the movie.

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

We’ll get you started:

Joumana Khatib: “I’d read Percival Everett before. I love watching his mind on the page. He’s funny, he’s irreverent, he’s sarcastic. There’s nobody that 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 obviously a parodical novel. It’s obviously unbelievably satirical and it’s just outrageous enough that it keeps the momentum without feeling schlocky or shticky.” …

Reggie Ugwu: “He has a great sense of pace, like he never wastes time. … You can tell that it’s the work of a very sophisticated and mature writer who knows exactly what to leave on the page and exactly what he can cut. There are some moments where I marveled when he would just leap the plot forward in a few lines.”

Send your feedback about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general, to [email protected].

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