The Sellout - Paul Beatty

The Sellout

By Paul Beatty

  • Release Date: 2015-03-03
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4
From 273 Ratings


Winner of the Man Booker Prize
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction
Winner of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature

New York Times Bestseller
Los Angeles Times Bestseller

Named One of the 10 Best Books of the Year by
The New York Times Book Review
Named a Best Book of the Year by Newsweek, The Denver Post, BuzzFeed, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly

Named a "Must-Read" by Flavorwire and New York Magazine's "Vulture" Blog

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.

Fueled 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.


  • Lived up to its title

    By Ace Rah T
    I give this book credit for living up to its title. The author masterfully uses the stereotypical philosopher-poet assimilationist rhetoric to apply narrowly constructed majority-culture definitions to arrogantly describe ways of being external to its own constructed reality.
  • I tried..I really tried

    By Chidinma89
    Couldn’t get into it. It was neither funny or witty.
  • Tried Repeatedly

    By Kimberlg
    I wish I knew what the Man Booker readers saw. The subtext of every line is, “This is very important satire.” [eye roll emoji.” Wack. I couldn’t finish it. If the last 50 pages somehow make it all worthwhile, I’ll just live with having missed out on the magic.
  • An interesting way to explore american racism

    By Docta Tre-Tre
    Based on some of the other reviews, it is clear that this book isn’t for everyone. I, however, loved it. Being of an age where I remember many racist shows (Our gang, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry) being broadcast to the masses, his take on how that affected our collective psyche completely engaged me. I found the seriousness of the topic lightened by his sense of humor, and it kept me going throughout the novel.
  • ????????

    By Long legion
    Unable to follow any type of storyline. This may appeal to some, but I just didn’t “get it”
  • Funny parts, but doesn't hold together

    By Hkgcoutd
    The author has an amazing facility with language. Some of his sentences crackle with energy and humor. But the story itself doesn't hold my attention and in the end it doesn't hold together as a novel.
  • The sellout

    By Chuckminnesota
    Dumping core!
  • The SellOut

    By Elp33pullen
    Can't read any more. Just insulting.
  • Weird... Interesting... Good

    By Skyler06
    The writing style is better than the plot, but it was enjoyable throughout. Filled with irony and vulgarity, but very deliberate in its enhanced diction. My first satire and I would enjoy another.