Winner of the Man Booker Prize
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction
Winner of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature
New York Times Bestseller
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Named One of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review
Named a Best Book of the Year by Newsweek, The Denver Post, BuzzFeed, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly
Named a "Must-Read" by Flavorwire and New York Magazine's "Vulture" Blog
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.
Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.
Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Reading Paul Beatty’s The Sellout made us inspired, angry, and entirely dazzled—all at once. The novel, which won the 2016 Man Booker Prize, tells the intoxicating tale of a narrator known only as “Me,” whom we meet after he’s hauled to court for attempting to re-segregate his suburb of Los Angeles. Beatty’s story is a blistering, uncomfortably hilarious satire that skewers cultural stereotypes and savages 21st-century America. We haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since we finished.
Beatty's satirical latest (after Slumberland) is a droll, biting look at racism in modern America. At the novel's opening, its narrator, a black farmer whose last name is Me, has been hauled before the Supreme Court for keeping a slave and reinstituting racial segregation in Dickens, an inner-city neighborhood in Los Angeles inexplicably zoned for agrarian use. When Dickens is erased from the map by gentrification, Me hatches a modest proposal to bring it back by segregating the local school. While his logic may be skewed, there is a perverse method in his madness; he is aided by Hominy, a former child star from The Little Rascals, who insists that Me take him as his slave. Beatty gleefully catalogues offensive racial stereotypes but also reaches further, questioning what exactly constitutes black identity in America. Wildly funny but deadly serious, Beatty's caper is populated by outrageous caricatures, and its damning social critique carries the day.
Weird... Interesting... Good
The writing style is better than the plot, but it was enjoyable throughout. Filled with irony and vulgarity, but very deliberate in its enhanced diction. My first satire and I would enjoy another.
Couldn’t put this down!
Smart and hilarious! Haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a while!
Lived up to its title
I give this book credit for living up to its title. The author masterfully uses the stereotypical philosopher-poet assimilationist rhetoric to apply narrowly constructed majority-culture definitions to arrogantly describe ways of being external to its own constructed reality.