The Sellout – Paul Beatty

The Sellout by Paul Beatty look out 2016’s Man Booker Prize. The Sellout is a satire that starts with our protagonist in the nation’s Supreme Court for bringing back slavery. A negro in present day society who has chosen to bring back racial segregation in his home town. What follows is a biting and hilarious story of how he came to be a black man with a slave sitting in front of the nation’s highest court.


The Sellout was very well written and laugh out loud funny. I found myself giggling along to this novel more than once. Unfortunately for me a lot of the cultural references went over my head, perhaps due to the fact that it is set in America and I’m not quite as familiar with all of their culture (have it set in Australia and I certainly wouldn’t miss a beat). I do have to say after studying psychology at university I did appreciate all the psychological references from his childhood. I do think though I have discovered that satire may not be my genre – I tried and did better than I have in the past, however, I just don’t enjoy them like I should. Personally I also found the author’s side anecdotes, the probably hilarious jokes that others found funny, distracting from the plot and it really disrupted the flow of the book for me.


My favourite part of the book was the character Hominy. He was crazy, unpredictable and put a smile on my face the most by far. I definitely have not come across a character like him and will likely not again. In fact, a real highlight of The Sellout is in the character of the book. They were each very unique, rich characters that you are unlikely to forget anytime soon. This is the part I look back on with fondness and is what I will remember further down the track.


I can understand why The Sellout won the Man Booker Prize last year. This novel is so culturally relevant to American culture and is presented in an eloquent and hilarious manner. It makes some interesting points and is well worth a read if you have an interest in and an understanding of American culture and if you do enjoy a good satire. If you do not, I would perhaps not recommend this one. Unfortunately this book was not the right fit for me and I give The Sellout two of Hominy’s precious Little Rascals tapes.


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