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The Sellout

by Paul Beatty

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,5911134,399 (3.76)208
"Raised in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens--improbably smack in the middle of downtown L.A.--the narrator of The Sellout resigned himself to the fate of all other middle-class Californians: "to die in the same bedroom you'd grown up in, looking up at the crack in the stucco ceiling that had been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist at Riverside Community College, he spent his childhood as the subject in psychological studies, classic experiments revised to include a racially-charged twist. He also grew up believing this pioneering work might result in a memoir that would solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a shoot out with the police, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral and some maudlin what-ifs. Fuelled by this injustice and the general disrepair of his down-trodden hometown, he sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident--the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins, our narrator initiates a course of action--one that includes reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school--destined to bring national attention. These outrageous events land him with a law suit heard by the Supreme Court, the latest in a series of cases revolving around the thorny issue of race in America. The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the most sacred tenets of the U.S. Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality--the black Chinese restaurant"--"A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court"--… (more)
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» See also 208 mentions

English (110)  Piratical (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (112)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
It's a piece of satire, but not overly sarcastic. But not naive. Reading it, I felt the way I feel when reading Chuck Palahniuk without the trope of dark undertone -- because racism has its own dark undertones that don't need any help being fucked up. It was cathartic and educating to hear this voice talk about race and America in a serious study, delivered in an absurd manner that managed to be funny and page-turning. From what I understand, the audiobook is even better. ( )
  sonyagreen | Jan 18, 2022 |
A remarkable book. At first it seemed to be trying too hard to be funny, and it is indeed very funny in places. But it found its place in a serious, if satiric, examination of race in America. I'm not sure that this will resolve anything, but it should be read alongside serious non-fiction books presuming to move the conversation on race in America forward. ( )
  TomMcGreevy | Sep 29, 2021 |
Brilliant and important and hilarious and wince-producing novel. Can't recommend it highly enough. Instead of being hectored by Ta-Nehisi Coates, let yourself be filleted by Paul Beatty. THE SELLOUT is acerbic, merciless, and truly a LOL experience. One of the best books I've read in ages. ( )
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
Hilarious, stylish, and unafraid of confronting America’s racial fault lines, this novel recalls nothing so much as the laugh-out-loud skit movie “Undercover Brother”. The African-American experience, both real and as stereotyped, is embraced by a brother of spirit and wit in Los Angeles, leading him to reintroduce segregation and indeed slavery. If it weren’t so funny, it would be hard-hitting, or perhaps the reverse. For me, another parallel would be the “Confederacy of Dunces” (reviewed here too, qv) with its outlandish protagonist, comical storyline, and presumed-but-not-easily-interpreted subversive intent. I loved it, but not everyone will. ( )
  eglinton | Aug 10, 2021 |
Fiction
  hpryor | Aug 8, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
added by sgw160 | editNew York Review of Books, Darryl Pinckney (Dec 22, 2016)
 
But somehow, The Sellout isn't just one of the most hilarious American novels in years, it also might be the first truly great satirical novel of the century.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paul Beattyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bruce, ElizabethEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Onayemi, PrenticeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Althea Amrik Wasow
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This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I've never stolen anything.
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"Raised in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens--improbably smack in the middle of downtown L.A.--the narrator of The Sellout resigned himself to the fate of all other middle-class Californians: "to die in the same bedroom you'd grown up in, looking up at the crack in the stucco ceiling that had been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist at Riverside Community College, he spent his childhood as the subject in psychological studies, classic experiments revised to include a racially-charged twist. He also grew up believing this pioneering work might result in a memoir that would solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a shoot out with the police, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral and some maudlin what-ifs. Fuelled by this injustice and the general disrepair of his down-trodden hometown, he sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident--the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins, our narrator initiates a course of action--one that includes reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school--destined to bring national attention. These outrageous events land him with a law suit heard by the Supreme Court, the latest in a series of cases revolving around the thorny issue of race in America. The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the most sacred tenets of the U.S. Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality--the black Chinese restaurant"--"A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court"--

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