Paul Beatty today was awarded the 2016 Man Booker Prize for his novel, “The Sellout,” a satire about race relations in the 21st century. With this prize, Beatty becomes the first American author to win the prestigious award. Up until 2014, this award was only eligible to authors from the UK, or former British colonial nations (Australia, Ireland, Canada, much of southeast Africa, India, etc).
Beatty’s novel follows the life of a protagonist who is only ever named as “Me” who is nearly broken by the confines of his hometown of Dickens, a Los Angeles suburb that has become a sort of forgotten shantytown for black Americans. After witnessing an act of violence perpetrated by the LAPD, he begins his quest to save his town by reintroducing segregation and slavery. His mission takes him all the way to the United Stated Supreme Court (who has to hold a hearing on a trial absurdly named “Me v. The United States of America”) The book is a viciously funny commentary on the weighty and contemporary issues of racial unrest and injustice in America. Highly recommended!