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.
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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- Wood Hayman
Clever and original. Brilliant work.
- B.J. "I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear."