The Sellout

  • by Paul Beatty
  • Narrated by Prentice Onayemi
  • 9 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2016
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality: the black Chinese restaurant.
Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens - on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles - the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since the '68 quake."
Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.
Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident - the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins - he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

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What the Critics Say



Winner, The Man Booker Prize, 2016
2015 National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, Fiction

"Narrator Prentice Onayemi embodies Bonbon, along with the novel's many unique characters: a former 'Our Gang' understudy, a former girlfriend who is now a city bus driver, the denizens of the neighborhood, and the white surfer dudes whom Bonbon regularly confuses at the beach. There's even a small part for Justice Clarence Thomas, which Onayemi does in style, and street Spanish, which, when required, flows perfectly." (AudioFile magazine)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

uncomfortablely comfortable

As a highly educated Black man living in the United States, I feel as if this book was written to me. The illustrative depiction of the duality of ignorant intelligence was so incredibly elegant that the things I disliked about the book - the loquaciousness, the temporally difficult to follow diatribes - were the things I actually found most endearing. For, if these previously-mentioned aspects were not rampantly displayed throughout the book, I would doubt the sincerity of the book's meesage. My only wish, at this point, is to be able to talk to someone else who's read the book. I am grateful to the skilled author for having written this book!
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- Wood Hayman

Appreciated it, but didn't like it

I really appreciated the humor, the cultural references, the satire, the cleverness and the reality of what this author wrote. But the stream-of-consciousness style became so repetitive and so mind-numbing that I stopped hearing what the author was saying.
I wanted to experience this book as some other reviewers and some critics have as a brilliant tour-de-force, but instead I found it self-indulgent and desperately in need of a storyline.
I tried to follow what was being said with the small portions of plot thrown in, but the listening task of keeping up with the constant and overwhelming satire made the task impossible for me.
I even hesitated to write this negative review considering the importance of the subject matter, but this book lost me after struggling to listen barely halfway through. Besides, the people who should be reading or listening to this book, won't be reading or listening to it.
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- Eugenia

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-07-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios