‘American Fiction’ – Everything We Know About the Surprise Awards Contender

American Fiction has quickly become one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the fall after premiering at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to high critical acclaim and earning the prestigious TIFF People’s Choice Award. The film, based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett, is a mix of comedic moments with dramatic undertones, as it tackles an ever-present issue in American culture: watering complex individuals down to age-old stereotypes.

The film is generating some Oscar chatter given the performances of its lead actors, as well as the script – adapted by screenwriter Cord Jefferson (The Good Place) – and its ability to capture humor alongside a deeper message. Here is all the info you need to know on the already buzz-worthy feature.

Editor’s Note: This piece was updated on December 18, 2023.

American Fiction poster Jeffrey Wright._V1_

American Fiction

A novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment uses a pen name to write a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.

Release Date
December 15, 2023

Cord Jefferson


117 minutes

Main Genre

Comedy , Drama

Cord Jefferson , Percival Everett

Story By
Percival Everett

Ben LeClair, p.g.a., Nikos Karamigios, p.g.a., Cord Jefferson, p.g.a., Jermaine Johnson, p.g.a.

Orion Pictures , Amazon MGM Studios

When Is ‘American Fiction’ Coming Out?

Erika Alexander as Coraline and Jeffrey Wright as Thelonious 'Monk' Ellison in American Fiction.
Image via TIFF

American Fiction was released in select cities on Friday, December 15, 2023, before expanding the following week on Friday, December 22, 2023. The film was previously scheduled to be released on November 3 but was pushed back a month in order to capitalize on the Oscar buzz.

Where Can You Watch ‘American Fiction’?

Cliff (Sterling K. Brown), Monk (Jeffrey Wright), and Coraline (Erika Alexander) carrying boxes in American Fiction
Image via Orion Pictures

American Fiction will enjoy an exclusive theatrical release for the foreseeable future. It is not yet known when the film will be available on VOD, streaming, or physical media. We do know that American Fiction will eventually be available to stream on both Prime Video and MGM+ since the film is an Orion Pictures production (a subsidiary of Amazon MGM Studios). There has been no information as to when it will be on the service.

Is There a Trailer For ‘American Fiction’?

A trailer for American Fiction was released on October 16, giving audiences their first look at the critically acclaimed dramedy, including quotes from several reviews of the review.

The second trailer for American Fiction was released by MGM on December 18, 2023.

Who Stars In ‘American Fiction’?

American Fiction stars Westworld fan favorite Jeffrey Wright, who played the lovable (albeit constantly flustered) Bernard Lowe on all four seasons of the HBO epic. In reviews for American Fiction, Wright is being praised for his performance in the leading role of Monk, a once prolific but now struggling author fighting to stay relevant to present-day readers. Wright has starred in many other hit projects, like Wes Anderson‘s The French Dispatch and Asteroid City. Wright also appeared in box-office smashes The Batman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and No Time To Die.

Also starring in American Fiction is Insecure creator and leading lady Issa Rae, who plays author Sintara Golden, the woman who opens Monk’s eyes to the current state of the publishing world, and more importantly, what sells. Golden’s character serves as a foil to Monk, challenging his way of thinking and forcing him to pivot in a direction that he is not used to. Rae has recently appeared in B.J. Novak‘s feature directorial debut Vengeance, as well as the recent summer hit Barbie.

Playing Monk’s family are Tracee Ellis Ross as Monk’s sister Lisa; Sterling K. Brown as his brother, Clifford; and Leslie Uggams as his mother, Agnes. Ross is best known for her role as Rainbow Johnson in all eight seasons of the popular ABC show Black-ish. She also starred in eight seasons of Girlfriends and has made appearances in comedies like Portlandia and Broad City. Brown is another familiar face in the film, having been a lead actor in all six seasons of the NBC phenomenon This Is Us. He has also had roles in Black Panther, The Predator, and Waves. Uggams has had reoccurring roles in some of the most iconic shows in television history, such as Roots, The Muppet Show, and The Love Boat. She has also appeared in Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and the upcoming Deadpool 3.

American Fiction also stars John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook) as Monk’s agent Arthur, Erika Alexander (Get Out) as Monk’s love interest Coraline, Myra Lucretia Taylor (Atlanta) as Monk’s family’s housekeeper Lorraine, and Ray Anthony Thomas (Shutter Island) as Maynard, a family-friend of Monk’s.

What Is ‘American Fiction’ About?

Jeffrey Wright on the poster for American Fiction
Image via Orion Pictures

American Fiction follows the story of struggling writer Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) as he navigates the ever-changing publication landscape in a fight to stay relevant to modern-day readers. His publishers who were once very supportive no longer care to hear from the struggling writer. Monk takes notice of current best-selling author Sintara Golden (Issa Rae), whose best-selling book he views as caked in Black stereotypes. This realization of what sells to audiences infuriates Monk so much that he decides to write his satirical attempt at this type of watered-down, simplistic writing under a fake name. While writing the book started as a joke, it is suddenly just as popular as the writing from Golden that made his skin crawl. When Monk’s mother falls ill and the revenue from the book becomes all the more important, Monk is faced with the ultimate modern-day dilemma: is it worth pandering to simplistic views of human beings to remain significant?

The synopsis for the film reads:

AMERICAN FICTION is Cord Jefferson’s hilarious directorial debut, which confronts our culture’s obsession with reducing people to outrageous stereotypes. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a frustrated novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, Monk uses a pen name to write an outlandish “Black” book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.

Who Is Making ‘American Fiction’?

Cord Jefferson on set of his directorial debut American Fiction
Image via Orion Pictures

American Fiction is based on the 2001 novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett and was adapted for the screen by Cord Jefferson, who also directed the film. Producers on the film include Jefferson, Ben LeClair (Fair Play), Nikos Karamigios (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), and Jermaine Johnson (From Scratch). Ram Bergman and Rian Johnson (Knives Out) executive produced the film through their T-Street Productions banner, with Everett and Michael Bowes also credited as executive producers.

Movies Like ‘American Fiction’ You Can Watch Right Now

issa rae vengeance
Image via Focus Features

Late Night (2019) – Late Night, a film written by and starring Mindy Kaling, was the first major sale at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, selling for $13 million to Amazon Studios. The film follows the story of Kaling, who plays struggling comedy writer Molly Patel, as she becomes a diversity hire by late-night legend Katherine Newberry (Emma Thompson). Not only is Molly the only person of color in the writer’s room, she is the only woman as well. After attempting to fit in with the other writers to get her work used, Molly decides to use her unique point of view to her advantage, and in doing so, becomes Katherine’s right-hand woman. As funny as the film can be at times, it also holds a much deeper message of the importance of diversity in the workplace, not just to check a box, but to generate art that tells stories from a variety of viewpoints.

Watch on Prime Video

Vengeance (2022) – For more of Issa Rae in a comedy/drama setting, Vengeance is another story about a man (B.J. Novak) attempting to stay relevant through the utilization of his ex’s death to make a hit murder podcast. Novak’s character of Ben varies from American Fiction‘s monk in that he is using someone he didn’t care about to find fame, but Vengeance contains the same thematic element of doing what it takes to remain in the public eye. Like Monk, Ben is a writer who once felt on top of the world, but now is struggling to remain relevant in literature and journalism. Ben sees an opportunity to use a topic he thinks is ridiculous – the country’s obsession with true-crime podcasts – and runs with it. The film was also Novak’s directorial debut and was produced by Blumhouse Productions and Focus Features.

Rent on Prime Video

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