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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.
Winner, The Man Booker Prize, 2016
2015 National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, Fiction
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Bonnie B. on 07-27-15
Brilliant book, fantastic narrator!
Ever since hearing the sample clip I've been listening to this book non-stop. It's so well-written, bold, profound, hilarious, and on-point. Paul Beatty has been compared to Vonnegut, Roth, and Heller, but he's got his own distinct voice that is beautifully captured by the narrator. I'm really sorry to have finished this book and enjoyed it so much that I may have to listen to it again, which I never do. Many are calling it the best book of 2015 and it's definitely got my vote!
42 of 44 people found this review helpful
By kurdis teed on 10-19-17
Just OK - a few funny sections
A friend told me about this novel and said it was funny. He recommended to me, and we normally like a lot of the same books. It's not like I hated the story, but it just didn't interest me all that much. It had a few funny sections and a few witty passages, but overall it's just not that great. The narrator is good, though he sounded really thirsty, lol. I could hear him constantly working his mouth. All in all, I wasn't that impressed. It was OK, but I wouldn't recommend it if someone was asking my opinion.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful