Book Review: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

TheSelloutHere is my first of hopefully many book reviews. I love to read, it is more than a hobby, it is an escape for me. I realized after I graduated from college that I had really gotten away from reading for pleasure and I made it my goal to get back to reading for fun this year. One of the things I wanted to do with this goal was to read more material outside of my comfort zone, and I definitely accomplished that with this novel. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be spoilers, so read at your own risk.

I have never read anything like this novel before. The Sellout is satire, which is a genre that I have no experience with. The closest comparison I can come up with is A Modest Proposal by Jonathon Swift. The plot is so ridiculous that it actually does make you think about current society. But that being said, it really did make it difficult to get through. I put this book down countless times, and had to trudge through it.

The narrator, only referred to by his last name ‘Me’ or his nickname ‘Sellout’, is on trial at the Supreme Court for trying to re-institute segregation and slavery. The narrator is a black man raised by a social psychologist in an ‘agrian ghetto’. While most of the plot is extremely over the edge, there are scenes that ring very true. When the narrator is shot in cold blood by the police, it feels like a headline stripped from the evening news. I think this is a very important social novel and while I realize that I will never understand what it is like to be black in America, this novel brings a lot more to light for me. But satire is not my genre by a long shot.

The only glaring negative to this novel is the portrayal, or lack thereof of black women. There is only one black female character and she serves no real purpose, other than a twisted love interest for the author. Beatty left out half of the black population by ignoring women and that is a shame.

-Lauren

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