Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,475 ratings  ·  184 reviews
Percival Everett's most recent novel, the academic satire Glyph, was hailed by the New York Times as "both a treatise and a romp." His new novel combines a touching story of a man coming to terms with his family heritage and a satiric indictment of race and publishing in America.
Avant-garde novelist and college professor, woodworker, and fly fisherman -- Thelonious (Monk)...more
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by University Press of New England (first published 2001)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,793)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 2.5* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 rea...more
MJ Nicholls
A strange blend of family drama and razor-sharp satire. Thelonious Ellison is an academic writer in the mould of Barthes or Derrida, whose unreadable novels upset and alienate colleagues and readers. Riled by the rise of cheap and racist "ghetto-lit," he pens a satire against the genre, which becomes unbearably popular.

Despite this mouthwatering premise, however, most of Erasure is about Ellison's relationship with his mother, a passionate woman succumbing to Alzhemier's. The story is a touching...more
I took an advanced fiction class from Percival Everett and admired him immensely as a teacher and person, so I finally got around to reading one of his books. I had taken a look at "Glyph" before, but "Erasure" really got me. It's the story of a brilliant Black man who defies popular (and forced) stereotypes about black men - not unlike Everett himself though I'm sure he would resent comparisons intensely.

The character - Monk - is so discouraged by the lack of audience his uber-intellectual boo...more
ERASURE was published eight years ago, in 2001, before the J.T. Leroy hoax was outed and before the eerily echoing current debate over the film PRECIOUS. it's hard to discuss the novel without talking about its elaborate plot and book-within-a-book structure. here's PW's gloss:

Thelonius "Monk" Ellison is an erudite, accomplished but seldom-read author who insists on writing obscure literary papers rather than the so-called "ghetto prose" that would make him a commercial success. He finally succu...more
Mar 24, 2012 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Terence by: Nation review of Erasure/Assumption
If Erasure is about anything, it’s about identity. Ones we invent for ourselves, ones we invent for others, ones that are forced on us, and ones that we lose. From the first page, the novel’s protagonist, Thelonius “Monk” Ellison, tries to establish his:

I have dark brown skin, curly hair, a broad nose, some of my ancestors were slaves and I have been detained by pasty white policemen in New Hampshire, Arizona and Georgia and so the society in which I live tells me I am black; that is my race. Th
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Well - This was an extrememly thought provoking book and I would have given it five stars had it not been so thought provoking at times that I had some difficulty following where the author wanted me to go.

I felt the work dense -- and unfortunately I don't know Latin beyond the rudimentary and it was hard at the end to make sense of the big picture that Everett wqas painting.

But I do understand what he meant by alienation. What happens when you don't belong anywhere? And the issues he speaks to...more
Steven Salaita
I love this novel. I laughed throughout, but it's not merely a satire and a meta-commentary about race and the corporate publishing industry. It's also a moving story about family dynamics and professional frustration. I'll be recommending this one to everybody I know.

Edit: just a final thought: while the novel-within-a-novel, My Pafology then Fuck, contains elements of Push and Invisible Man, I also detect in it the film Menace 2 Society and the memoir Makes Me Wanna Holler. All in all, My Paf...more
Jamilla Rice
Thus my P.E. obsession loses its vestigial tail and sprouts wings . . .

Initially, I wanted to read through a few reviews to see how anyone really had the

intestinal fortitude

to write a review.

My favorite artist is Basquiat. "Is" because although he is dead, he lives on through the massiveness of his art. Anyone who has seen his art in the flesh (and they do seem to be breathing, layers upon layers of thoughts like skin whispering to be peeled...more
Carl Brush
This conversation between the artists de Kooning and Rauschenberg

appears in the middle of Percival Everett’s Erasure. Apparently something like this actually happened, but never mind. Everett’s version is at the heart of the title and spirit of the novel.

Rauschenberg exchanges a roof repair job for one of de Kooning’s drawings. Four weeks later:

Rauschenberg: Well, it took me forty erasers, but I did it.

de Kooning: Did what?

R: Erased it. The picture you drew for me.

K: You erased my picture?

Thelonius Monk Ellison is an esoteric (and, therefore, unsuccessful) novelist. His agents tell him, "The publishers all say, 'Isn't he black? Why doesn't he write black novels?'" ("How do they know I'm black?" Ellison asks.) Incensed over the immense popularity of a novel called We's Be Livin in Da Ghetto, Ellison pseudononymously* writes a hip-hop parody and is horrified by its wild success (because, of course, no one recognizes it as a parody). Ellison also has to deal with family problems: th...more
Nov 06, 2007 Pete rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: just about everyone
Probably my favorite contemporary work of fiction, also one of my favorite all-time novels, and written by one of my two favorite authors. _Erasure_ was mostly marketed as a send-up of the publishing industry (especially in regards to race), and while it performs that function as humorously as you could hope for, its real pleasure for me was its presentation of something I guess you could call the indeterminacy of identity. Our protagonist here is black by white standards and white by black stan...more
I had a lot of fun with this book...from his waaay over the top novel within a the imagined conversations of historical was a book I was anxious to get back to. Also included was a rather sad piece of family dynamics that the majority of the baby booming generation is currently facing..the aging of ones parents...Its not often one finds historical hilarity, skewering of authors and the publishing game, racial perceptions and stereotypes and family drama all wrapped into one...more
My first awareness of Erasure was in Rain Taxi; damn, I used to love that publication. There were all these small presses and I would ponder the depth of each reviewed novel. This was likely before goodreads. I found a copy of Erasure later at a Half Price; I bought it and devoured it imeediately. It contains some interesting ideas but I felt it to be more of an exercise and little else.
First Second Books
It is making me LAUGH. He's a wonderful writer! I want to read All the Books by him now.
E. Thomas
Percival Everett takes on a lot in this far-ranging, contempt-derived satire. His narrator Theolonius Ellison, nicknamed Monk, gives up the unprofitable career of writing intelligent, aesthetically rigorous novels to move home and care for his mother. Around the same time he writes a Precious-style novel in the ghetto patois familiar to fans of 50 Cent. It is a piece of doggerel, purposely bad, lurid, and affirmative of every African-American stereotype. Refusing credit, he has it published unde...more
Nov 14, 2011 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: African-American readers, Readers of Literary prose and dark humor,
After reading "Erasure" I wondered why it took me so long to read something of Everett's. Even though this was originally published 10 years ago, Graywolf Press is re-releasing it and the subject matter has as much relevance now as it did then and, I fear, always will.

I love the balance of voices that he uses for Monk and the punch of the prose. Thelonious Monk feels like he's going crazy by the end but he's still one of the most sane people around. It's almost like a horror movie where you won...more
I would without hesitation stack this book up against any great postmodern work--Coetzee, the magical realists, anyone. The conception of the book is brilliant. The plot centers around Thelonious Ellison, an African-American writer of dense and unreadable prose whose aesthetic includes heavy reliance on retellings of Greek myths. As a joking parody, he writes a novel mimicing the degradingly stereotypical We Lives In Da Ghetto (his literary arch-nemisis), which Ellison publishes under the pseudo...more
Erasure is an exceptional fictional novel by Percival Everett concerning the literary world and its controversial acquiescence of African American literature. Written with intellectual boldness and sprinkled with random comical satires as well as colorful characters, Everett creates a noteworthy novel within the confines of its pages.

Protagonist Thelonious “Monk” Ellison is an unenthusiastic academic whose career as a writer has been met with numerous rejections from publishers. Monk’s writings...more
This book is gorgeously written, and it's a searing indictment of the publishing industry and fetishized and stereotyped blackness in popular culture. I loved the way Everett laced miniature plays throughout his text, ironic encounters between famous artists. (Cecille B. DeMille and Richard Wright was perhaps my favorite pairing.) The family relationships are drawn sparely and poignantly; Everett does an amazing job evoking the joint violence and passivity of Alzheimer's and the difficulty of be...more
Someone pointed out this book while I was reading a discussion on another site about the issues of race and publishing in America. The book addresses the popularity of the urban fiction genre (books like Push/Precious), and what that means for African-American authors who want to escape being pigeon-holed into writing about certain subjects pertaining to racial identity. This book makes the subject entertaining and most of the characters believable and sympathetic.

The plot is really split into t...more
David Maine
What a great book. Just read it. It will shatter (perhaps) any preconceived notions of what "black writing" (whatever that might be) is. Everett throws in everything here -- a parody of academic non-writing, a demolition of white-centric notions of black literature (again, whatever that is), and most important of all, a genuinley moving story about a man alienated from his own family, coping with his aging mother's failing health.

Charles Dickens said that to write a great story, you had to "Make...more
This book is near and dear to my heart mostly because of it's history.

When I was a wee child of 17, I took a class in high school called Ethnic literature, taught by an amazing teacher who is now sadly retired.

This book was clearly a book we were not supposed to read in our ultra-conservative school in upstate New York. But my teacher didn't care and decided to let us read it. This book was the best time I had in any high school literature class. But one sad sad day, my teacher switched to Raisi...more
Tom Andes
You laugh so hard, so often, especially during the novel-within-the-novel, and you repeat so many of the jokes to your friends, even years after you've read the book, that it's easy to forget if not altogether miss how sad the novel itself actually is.
Only a few novels can make you ROTFL and still make you think about the idea of "blackness" and still confuse you with French structuralist theories. This novel's really clever and funny in assembling all these three, and others, together.
A shocking exposé. A cold, hard look at the marginalized, nitty gritty underworld of the middle class American intellectual.
Jul 24, 2007 Thena added it  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People that are tired of books like "Thong on Fire" and "Bling"
Halfway through the book....very interesting. I'll reserve my comments until I'm done!
Chris Horne
So unlike "I Am Not Sidney Poitier" is "Erasure" that I felt punched in the gut fairly early. But it is so compelling that I couldn't put it down, no matter how hard some of this is to read. And I mean "hard to read" in the best possible way.

The brief description of the book sounded like it'd be another comic romp, possibly with some depth and heart--but comic all the same: Thelonious "Monk" Ellison is a college professor whose works of fiction are dense and academic, and therefore largely unre...more
Stephen Burrows
I really like this novel, it accomplished many things, asked many questions and was a very accessible read.

The main plot, about a frustrated African-American writer who isn't "black" enough for a market he isn't trying to be a part of, is an excellent satire about the perception of race in America; the need to pigeon-hole everything to be able to market it; and also the pack-mania of the book buying public.

But where this book really excels are the passages in which Everett describes the chain of...more
Franco Vite
Dec 30, 2010 Franco Vite rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: All
Chiudo l'anno con la nomina all'unanimità (un voto su uno) di Percival Everett "mio autore dell'anno 2010".
Intanto ringrazio la rivista "Pulp" per avermelo fatto conoscere - così come l'anno scorso mi fece conoscere il il Sig. David Foster Wallace, col quale il Sig. Everett ha non pochi punti di contatto; e poi ringrazio me stesso per essermi fidato delle recensioni e del mio inimitabile fiuto da segugio letterario, e di essermi buttato a babbomorto sull'autore in quistione.

Insomma, dopo i ringr...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 93 94 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Thought Provoking! 1 5 Nov 19, 2013 04:56PM  
African American ...: Erasure: Finding Humor in Racism 1 13 Sep 03, 2012 10:29PM  
Literary Fiction by People of Color 44 58 Sep 16, 2008 09:19AM  
  • The White Boy Shuffle
  • A Taste of Honey: Stories
  • Mumbo Jumbo
  • The Professor's Daughter: A Novel
  • Pym
  • A Visitation of Spirits: A Novel
  • Black No More
  • Before I Forget
  • Third Girl from the Left
  • Gorilla, My Love
  • Apex Hides the Hurt
  • The Pink Institution
  • Alchemy of Race and Rights
  • If Sons, Then Heirs: A Novel
  • Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral
  • The Best of Simple
  • Orange Mint and Honey
  • Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America
Percival L. Everett (born 1956) is an American writer and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

There might not be a more fertile mind in American fiction today than Everett’s. In 22 years, he has written 19 books, including a farcical Western, a savage satire of the publishing industry, a children’s story spoofing counting books, retellings of the Greek myths...more
More about Percival Everett...
I am Not Sidney Poitier American Desert Wounded Assumption Glyph

Share This Book

“Linda Mallory is the postmodern fuck.” 5 likes
More quotes…