The Sellout

The Sellout


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Gabi's Review


This 2016 Booker-winning satire on racial identity thoroughly deserved the prize. Every violation perpetrated on African Americans is flipped on its head in The Sellout, creating heretical ironies that are laugh-out-loud funny. The character ME is the subject of his father's controversial racial reenactments as sociological experiments, including an outrageous recreation of the Emmett Till's incident, when ME is assaulted for harassing the white shop owner. ME accepts his father's project on the promise of a bestselling memoir. On his father's death, however, he inherits nothing but a bill for the funeral.


It is the cancelling of his dilapidated hometown of Dickens that provokes ME to embark on a crusade to get the town reinstated on the map. He begins by recruiting its famous resident Hominy Jenkins by enslaving him. What follows is an absurd journey that confronts racial politics, the US Constitution, the civil rights movement, and literature. Slaves become "dark skinned volunteers" in a rewrite of Huckleberry Finn titled The Pejorative-Free Adventures and Intellectual and Spiritual Journeys of African-American Jim and His Young Protege, White Brother Huckleberry Finn, as They Go in Search of the Lost Black Family Unit." The Sellout is a deliciously offensive, playfully witty take on the long history of racism in the USA.


Other Reviews

Outrageous, hilarious and profound.' - Financial Times
The longer you stare at Beatty's pages, the smarter you'll get.' - Guardian
The most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I've read.' - New York Times
I was banned from reading in bed because I was laughing so much.' - Olivia Williams, Man Booker Judge 2016
'This brilliant satire on racial politics in the US is at once timely, hilarious and outstanding'. - Observer
Hilariously caustic.' - Rolling Stone
Scarysmart - A hell of a ride.' - Newsweek
It will make you laugh, but most of all it will make you think.' - Sunday Times