Beatty Wins Man-Booker

Beatty Wins Man-BookerThe Sellout by Paul Beatty
Published by Oneworld Publications on March 24th 2016
ISBN: 9781786070166
Pages: 304
Genres: Fiction, Satire


‘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.


Paul Beatty is this year’s Man-Booker prize winner for his novel The Sellout. He is the first American author to have ever won the prize since its incarnation in 1968. Which probably says a lot about how the Brits view American writers and culture. The fact that they chose this novel, a scathing (and humorous) criticism on U.S. politics and race, seems an equal nod & shake of the head to the current climate in the U.S. (Although the fact that Beatty is compared to a modern day Mark Twain might be the biggest nod.) This is the second win for Beatty’s U.K. publisher OneWorld, who also published last year’s winner, A History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.

“The Sellout is one of those very rare books: which is able to take satire, which is a very difficult subject and not always done well, and plunges it into the heart of contemporary American society with a savage wit of the kind I haven’t seen since Swift or Twain.

“It manages to eviscerate every social taboo and politically correct nuance, every sacred cow. While making us laugh, it also makes us wince. It is both funny and painful at the same time.”

This is Beatty’s fourth novel.

2016 Man-Book Shortlist

This year’s shortlist included:

Author Title Country Publisher
Paul Beatty The Sellout US Oneworld Publications
Deborah Levy Hot Milk UK Hamish Hamilton
Graeme Macrae Burnet His Bloody Project UK Contraband
Ottessa Moshfegh Eileen US Jonathan Cape
David Szalay All That Man Is UK Jonathan Cape
Madeleine Thien Do Not Say We Have Nothing Canada Granta Books

AbeBooks Listings: The Sellout

First printing / First edition, unsigned: $125 – $300 for both the U.K. (OneWorld) and U.S. (FSG) editions.
Signed edition: listing in the $350+ range.

One thought on “Beatty Wins Man-Booker

  1. Mark says:

    The Booker Prize was only for Commonwealth countries until very recently. Therefore this being the first award to an American author is no reflection on British attitudes to American literature. Love your site btw. Every post is excellent.

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