Paul Beatty || The Sellout

ManBooker 2016

Shortlist 2016

How to stress a wrong? By exaggerating and turning things around. Having said so in The Sellout the main character is charged with the possession of a slave and he is trying to improve the self esteem of the African-American inhabitants of Dickens LA by reversed discrimination. He literally brings back the boundaries of Dickens by painting it on the road, he challenges youngsters by advertising for a new private school (costing loads of money) and makes his friend Honorée, the voluntary slave, happy by placing a sign in the bus: give your seat to the disabled, the old and the white. From that moment on the customary aggression in the bus ceases to be. Turning things around and exaggerating works: Beatty leaves no doubt discrimination and racism are wrong. He also shows that there are self-proclaimed victims amongst African-Americans as well,  Beatty does not condone them breaking the law. He says things as they are (he refers to African-Americans as blacks and niggers throughout his novel). I can imagine The Sellout becoming a major novel in (African-)American literature. By taking the jiffy out of the situation he stresses the difficult position of many African-Americans. Does this make a good novel? At times. I was promised a novel that would have me laugh my head off. That never happened. I was mostly irritated by the incredible speed Beatty uses to share information with me. I can best compare it to the enormous amount of words your average stand-up comedian uses. In the prologue the overdoses of words and facts made me wonder what on earth I was reading. Later on, when Beatty slowed down slightly, I finally became involved with Dickens, LA. I am afraid I might not have finished if Beatty had kept on the speed. Nevertheless, The Sellout is a novel that confronts and does not easily go away. I would not be surprised if it were to win the Booker, though in that case it might be for its message and less for its literary merits.

sellout

 

Advertisements

About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s