13 Dec 2015

Paul Beatty’s The Sellout: One of The New York Times “Ten Best of 2015”

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Like the entire town of Dickens, I was my father’s child, a product of my environment, and nothing more. Dickens was me. And I was my father. Problem is, they both disappeared from my life, first my dad, then my hometown, and I suddenly had no idea who I was, and no clue how to become myself.

These lines represent the serious underpinnings of what The New York Times described as “this year’s most cheerfully outrageous satire that takes as its subject a young black man’s desire to segregate his local school and to reinstate slavery in his home–before careening off to consider almost 400 years of black survival in America….Beatty’s novel is a fearless, multicultural pot almost too hot to touch.”

But, make sure not to drink too much coffee before starting this manic, exuberant, and disturbing novel. The writer’s energy is palpable as is his piling on of allusions and references to just about everything cultural, philosophical, historical, political, and intellectual. The pace is dizzying but captivating, and your mind will travel through the rampages of American history and its legacy of racism in a way no other author has achieved. Indeed, this is a satire. Yet, like all great satires, the medium is the message. Keep your eyes wide open for Beatty’s truth–it will remind you that even justice is not blind.

For discussion questions on Paul Beatty’s The Sellout click here

 

written by

Lisa Forman Rosen is an avid reader and facilitator of book clubs in Miami, Florida. She has worked at the University of Miami since 1986, first in the Department of English Composition as a lecturer and now at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as a writer. Lisa created this site to share her love of literature with others and expand the conversation into the virtual world.

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