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With Jeffrey Wright at the forefront of American fiction, Cord Jefferson writes where it hurts

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Laura Albert perpetrated one of the greatest literary hoaxes in recent memory: JT LeRoy, whose 2001 supposedly semi-autobiographical novel about his abuse as a young boy, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, was turned into a film in 2005. The same year, Albert was as exposed as the person behind the persona.

Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, played by Jeffrey Wright in Cord Jefferson’s feature debut American Fiction (based on Erasure), is a college English professor who, after years of toiling away in relative but respected anonymity, JT LeRoys himself as Stagg R. Lee. To his dismay, the book turns into a bestseller after he creates a gritty, “urban” with a capital U novel about Lee’s life that is filled with all the cliches that the gatekeepers of the literary world, who are primarily white, love.

American Fiction, which is produced by T-Street Productions of Rian Johnson, also features Adam Brody, Issa Rae, Erika Alexander, John Ortiz, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Sterling K. Brown.

American Fiction opens in select theaters on Dec. 15 before expanding on Dec. 22

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