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The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Sellout

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Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016.

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.

Amanda Foreman, 2016 Chair of judges, commented: ‘The Sellout is a novel for our times. A tirelessly inventive modern satire, its humour disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.’

Shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2016.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction 2016.


The Sellout by Paul Beatty

**SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016** '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.


'There's satire and then there's satire, and without question Paul Beatty's caustic third novel, The Sellout, definitely falls into the latter category...brutally honest and very funny'. Independent

'Both riotously experimental and touching...erudite...and viscerally engaging...Exceptional comic writing makes the skeletal plotting work...Beatty's inspiring new novel about the impossibility of post-racial anything in America is much more than scathing - it is constructive'. Times Literary Supplement

'Beatty's sharp humour challenges pieties from all sides...Intelligent...entertaining...exhilarating'. Daily Telegraph

'Beatty is an original and irreverent talent'. Times

'The longer you stare at Beatty's pages, the smarter you'll get.'

'[A] howl-a-passage assault on the pieties of race debates in America...outrageous, hilarious and profound...It takes a whole other level of sheer audacity to expose atrocious things through the play of wit. Beatty plays for high stakes - but he wins. His brilliant, beautiful and weirdly poignant book knocks the stuffing out of right-thinking solemnities and he delivers droll wisdoms besides which the most elevated rants...pale into ponderous sententiousness...Juiciness stains every lovely page of Beatty's mad, marvellous, toothsome book.'
Simon Schama, Financial Times

'Brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.'
Sarah Silverman

'[An] outrageous, riff-strewn satire on race in America...[The Sellout] combines effervescent comedy and stinging critique, but its most arresting quality is the lively humanity of its char-acters.'
The New Yorker

'Hilariously caustic.'
Rolling Stone

'Scarysmart...A hell of a ride.'

'[The Sellout] is among the most important and difficult American novels written in the 21st century...It is a bruising novel that readers will likely never forget.'
Los Angeles Times

'I am glad that I read this insane book alone, with no one watch-ing, because I fell apart with envy, hysterics, and flat-out awe. Is there a more fiercely brilliant and scathingly hilarious American novelist than Paul Beatty?'
Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet

'Let's get this out of the way: The Sellout is a work of genius, a satirical opus on race in 21st-century America.'
O, The Oprah Magazine

About the Author

Paul Beatty

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.

Author photo © Hannah Assouline

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Book Info

Publication date

1st June 2017


Paul Beatty

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Oneworld Publications


304 pages


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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