Author: Paul Beatty
Man Booker winner 2016 – first American to win
In The Sellout, nothing is sacrosanct and everything is sacrosanct as the author, Paul Beatty turns us on our heads with a satiric novel that proves genius in every way…every sentence pings with intelligent barb and obnoxious humor, and every paragraph writes a note home. Unbelievably brilliant.
With sentences that should be on billboards across America, The Sellout throws Jonathon Swift darts at every American convention, including race, that has appeared since before the Constitution.
“Sellout” (also called Bonbon for his ability as a pyromaniac) is the reverse racist protagonist in this novel. Sellout lives in an all Black/Latino agrarian town-suburb of Los Angeles surrounded by gang banger ghetto, called Dickens. The irony provokes as Beatty throws out some of the most memorable – and funniest – characters in novel history. Sellout’s BFF is Hominy Jenkins, the last actor of the Little Rascals TV series. And Sellout’s antagonist is Foy Cheshire, a member of the Dum Dum Donuts Intelligence Club, a Black mensa-like club established by Sellout’s father. Foy Cheshire wants the club leadership which naturally falls to passive Sellout, as his father’s legacy to him.
Beatty is so on his feet with this best book of the year, that it is pure “pun” to read sentence after amazing sentence in Sellout’s quest for humanity, human rights, and the best potato field in agrarian history.
Sellout is raised on a two acre farm in Dickens by his father, a social scientist and psychologist. Raised by social experiments and terror, with Pavlovian responses tied to electrical shocks for the wrong answers, Sellout is assured that he will be rich after his dad writes a book on his findings with his own child (of course, there is no mother). And when three cops accidentally shoot his father, Sellout decides to right some wrongs. (He is living off the lawsuit of wrongful death in his father’s “murder” by police).
First of all, when Dickens is dissolved and stricken off all maps and the internet right after his father’s death, Sellout decides to resurrect the community. Secondly, when Hominy demands to become Sellout’s slave or kill himself, Sellout allows the old gentleman the privilege of being beaten once a week to keep Hominy alive and non-suicidal. Third, Sellout decides to segregate the local high school and ends up facing the Supreme Court. Painfully beautiful, agonizingly funny, significantly wise, each chapter builds as Sellout singes every racial epitaph and turns it backward. Exquisite, dangerous, delightful – and worthy of Book of the Year and Man Booker, The Sellout spawns a new anti-hero who smokes pot, speaks Latin, is historically familiar with events most everyone has forgotten, surfs and is in love with his Latino transit bus driver Marpessa. Not only absurdly readable but smart and funny, the creatively satiric tone creates a consummately classical read. Enjoy!
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Overall: 5 PLUS
Review by Broad “A”
We received a product to facilitate our review. All opinions are our own
- You can pick up this book on Amazon.com here: The Sellout: A Novel or at a bookseller near you.