The Sellout

Alpine Books


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Winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize

Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction

Named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal

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 '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.

AWARDS• 2016 The Guardian (UK) Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee• 2015 New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award - Winner winner• 2015 NPR Best Book of the Year long-listed• 2016 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction short-listed• 2015 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 New Yorker Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2016 Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award - Finalist• 2015 NYT Outstanding Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year long-listed• 2015 Boston Globe Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2016 Man Booker Award - Nominee short-listed• 2016 The Telegraph (UK) Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2016 Man Booker Award - Winner winner• 2016 Financial Times Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 Time Out New York Best Books of the Year long-listed• 2015 Wall Street Journal Best Books of the Year long-listed