The Sellout by Paul Beatty [Book Review]

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Title : The Sellout

Author : Paul Beatty

ISBN : 9781786070173

Publisher : Pan Macmillan India

Genre : Contemporary

Pages : 289

Source : Self

Rating : 2 stars



Man Booker Prize for Fiction is considered as the Grammy of Literature and I am in no position to judge the authenticity and importance of this prize. But since last two years, the books that are getting this prize are difficult, unimaginative and a “distant” reads to me.

Coming to “The Sellout“, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016, the multiple online & offline reviews claim it to be a “lacerating satire“. I did understand the overall plot and the broadly imbibed the message & satire that the author wanted to portray, but the reason of low rating is that I couldn’t understand most of the cultural references a way an American would have understood. The narration is in first person and the author digresses every now and then to strike a “lacerating satire” on racism and segregation through pop culture references and I only wished I could understand, if not relate to them.

The Prologue of the book only introduces the reader to its crazy & absurd theme- A black man is being tried in the Supreme Court of USA for slavery & racial segregation! The rest of the story continues in flashback. There is narrator’s father who is a controversial socialist with equally controversial ways of social & personal (on his own son) experiments, Hominy, who seeks pleasure in being enslaved, and the Hispanic town of Dickens where they have all lived since beginning but now the town has lost its name & identity.

The narrator’s father is shot dead by police during a feud. Dickens has been wiped out from the map and children at the local school are turning into goons and according to the narrator, the only way that these two issues can be solved is through racial segregation- making apartheid like separation modules in schools and different areas for Whites & Non Whites in Dickens.

The theme of the book is no doubt bold & brave. It has been more than 50 years of Martin Luther’s revolution but the race is still a burning issue in the States and combining racism with subtle and explicit satire is no wonder an extremely meticulous task by Beatty.

I would love to re-read this book someday when I am a better read person, when I am better aware of the historical and political fabric that clouds the horrendous evil of racism in United States.

Buy yourself a copy of the book here: The Sellout

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