The Sellout – Paul Beatty


In a bid to reinstate his hometown on the map, the narrator in this American satire initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school.

➤ “I honestly started this book with an open mind. It’s “One of the 10 Best The New York Times Book Review Books of the Year” for crying out loud, I was sure I was literary enough to love the hell out of it.

“Undoubtedly there were some genuinely funny moments, but I was so shocked by so much of the “satire” it was hard to fully appreciate these.

“What’s next, a book about the hysterically funny aspects of rape? A satirical take on the gut-wrenching events at Parihaka? By the end of the book I appreciated what I believe the author was attempting to convey, but I think his was ultimately a lazy approach as all he really did was rake through modern-day America’s most disturbing and worrying events and take the piss out of them.” – Suzy

➤ “When I saw the words American satire on the back cover my heart dropped a little. My brain is wired more towards British satire than the American version. And yes I did end up struggling with the “humour”, despite the author’s message being clear.

“The Sellout is full of satirical digs at society, demonstrating how, in the US at least, racist attitudes are alive and well. I did nod and ahem and even chuckle occasionally. The local paper has black pages with white text; the narrator is referred to only as ‘me’; an unemployed man advertises himself as ‘pre-owned negro slave, only beaten on Thursdays’.  😦   Yes, message after message after message, often with frank and cutting language and insults that was difficult to digest. This was an intense book. Obviously the author felt it needed to be this jarring to accurately portray the climate of fear he was after, but I wouldn’t say it was funny, nor particularly readable.

“I understand why Beatty felt the need to write such a book but it wasn’t for me.” – Rachel

Published 2016
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
304 pages

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