Book 62: The Sellout by Paul Beatty


This is the kind of satire I love: satire with teeth. And claws. And serrated bonesaws.

This year’s Man Booker Prize-winner, The Sellout is a brutal and uncompromisng black comedy – and I mean that both in terms of tone and skin colour.

It’s a relentlesly politically-incorrect and take-no-prisoners affair: no one – black or white or Mexican; rich or poor; academic or actor or gangster – is safe from Beatty’s excoriating wit in his terrific deconstruction of race and class and hypocrisy in modern America.

The story revolves the destitute south LA neighbourhood of Dickens, which has literally been wiped off the map because it’s an embarrassment to the city and is driving down house prices in nearby white suburbs.

The titular sellout, a young African American man whose surname is “Me”, tries to get Dickens put back on the map by reintroducing slavery and segregation; a move that ultimately lands him in the Supreme Court.

It’s meta and funny – sometimes laugh-out-loud funny – and a helluva lot more accessible than last year’s Booker winner, the similarly racially-charged but otherwise very different A Brief History of Seven Killigs.

And that’s it for my 2016 reading year, folks. Stay tuned for my year in review piece, coming soon.

Author: adamgartrell

Political journalist drowning in books

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