‘Brutal and full of very dark humour, it tells us so much about the state of American race relations and, by extension, our attitude to colonialism and black history. Powerful stuff.’
WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016Paul Beatty
A Book of the Decade, 2010-2020 (Independent)
‘Outrageous, hilarious and profound.’ Simon Schama, Financial Times
‘The longer you stare at Beatty’s pages, the smarter you’ll get.’ Guardian
‘The most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I’ve read.’ New York Times
A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game.
Born in Dickens on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in his father’s racially charged psychological studies. He is told that his father’s work will lead to a memoir that will solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a drive-by shooting, he discovers there never was a memoir. All that’s left is a bill for a drive-through funeral.
What’s more, Dickens has literally been wiped off the map to save California from further embarrassment. Fuelled by despair, the narrator sets out to right this wrong with the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.
In his trademark absurdist style, which has the uncanny ability to make readers want to both laugh and cry, The Sellout is an outrageous and outrageously entertaining indictment of our time.
‘A no-holds-barred satire about the history and legacy of racism in America’.
‘A book of coruscating satire and the darkest humour whose bilious narrative voice leaves you at once enthralled and exhausted’.
‘One of the few books of recent years that has made me choke with laughter’.
‘A provocative, razor-sharp satire’.
‘Wow, the Man-Bookers got it right! Nothing is harder to write or easier to read than a full-on comic-philosophic novel that makes you laugh and think, sometimes at the same time. Nathanael West and Joseph Heller are hooting from heaven for this one. If you haven’t already read Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, your life is more meagre for the omission’.
‘A deeply ironic, comically inventive and sometimes very sad novel’.
‘[An] outrageous scattergun satire’.
‘A hilarious, anger-fuelled cadenza that feels as if it were written in one manic burst’.
‘Bitterly funny and finely layered…[The Sellout] seems even more essential after the racially demarcated “whitelash” of Donald Trump’s victory.’
‘I was banned from reading in bed because I was laughing so much.’
‘Brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.’