South West Reading Passport 2016: Book to the Future

Special Feature: Man Booker Prize winning The Sellout

the-selloutThe Sellout is a 2015 tragi-satire by Paul Beatty. The novel has earned its writer the accolade of becoming the first American to win the much coveted UK literary prize.

The novel begins with the protagonist, Bonbon facing trial at the Supreme Court… why? Well, without spoiling the plot, this urban farmer is trying to get his neighbourhood ‘Dickens’ back on the map in a number of extreme ways.

Raised by a father who was a controversial sociologist, Bonbon is well used to hearing racially charged studies of psychology and society but suddenly finds himself alone in the world and begins to notice with increasingly satirical humour all of the injustices faced by black people in America. In fact he goes so far as to believe that reinstating some of those injustices in Dickens might be just the solution…

Challenging the tenets of the American Constitution, urban life, civil rights and the father- son relationship, this novel starts a new and biting honest dialogue about race in modern America.

Told in episodic form, this novel is less about a specifically identifiable plot and more about a man’s quest to reinstate his hometown on the US map.  Encountering a number of influential people and celebrities along the way, join Bonbon as he determines to make a change…and winds up in court…

A study in the idea of identity and what it means to be both black and an American in modern society, Beatty’s novel adds a refreshing honesty to the fiction market and champions BAME writers, stories and diversity in publishing in 2016. Well worth a read.

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