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The Sellout

The Sellout Cover

The Sellout

By Paul Beatty

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374260507, 304pp.

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

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Description

Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction

Named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal

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.

Fuelled 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.



About the Author
Paul Beatty is the author of three novels--Slumberland, Tuff, and The White Boy Shuffle--and two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.


NPR
Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016

Beatty won for The Sellout, a satire hailed as hilarious about the fraught subject of race in the U.S. The competition was opened recently to any author writing in English and published in the U.K. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Saturday, Feb 28, 2015

In Paul Beatty's new satirical novel, The Sellout, the narrator wants to re-segregate his hometown outside of Los Angeles. NPR's Scott Simon talks to the author about using humor to write about race. More at NPR.org

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