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The Sellout


Paul 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.

  • Publication date: June 1, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781786071460
  • RRP: £8.99
  • Pages: 304
  • Publication date: March 24, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781786070166
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 304


‘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.’

The WeekKit de Waal

‘A no-holds-barred satire about the history and legacy of racism in America’.

Guardian, Best Books of the Year

‘A book of coruscating satire and the darkest humour whose bilious narrative voice leaves you at once enthralled and exhausted’.

Observer, Best Books of 2016

‘One of the few books of recent years that has made me choke with laughter’.

Daily Mail, Best Books of 2016

‘A provocative, razor-sharp satire’.

Mail on Sunday, Best Books of 2016

‘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’. 

Financial Times, Best Books of 2016Simon Schama

‘[An] outrageous scattergun satire’.

Telegraph, Books of the Year

‘A deeply ironic, comically inventive and sometimes very sad novel’.

Financial Times, Best Books of 2016Lorien Kite

‘A hilarious, anger-fuelled cadenza that feels as if it were written in one manic burst’. 

Observer, Best Books of 2016Mark Haddon

‘Bitterly funny and finely layered…[The Sellout] seems even more essential after the racially demarcated “whitelash” of Donald Trump’s victory.’

Tom Gatti, New Statesman, Books of the Year 2016

‘I was banned from reading in bed because I was laughing so much.’

Olivia Williams, Man Booker Judge 2016

‘Brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.’

Sarah Silverman

Paul Beatty

Paul Beatty is the author of the novels SlumberlandTuffThe White Boy Shuffle and The Sellout, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2016. He is also the author of two books of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce, and is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.

Author page

More books by Paul Beatty

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