Review 1374: The Sellout

Really? This book won the Booker Prize? I know my sense of humor is getting to be out of date, and when I read on the blurb that the book was “biting satire,” I just sighed. There’s no subtlety in humor anymore, and this novel is a prime example. Its writing style is broad and hectic, like a really long stand-up comedy routine. I’m guessing you either love it or hate it.

The narrator, a black man whose name is Me, starts out the novel at the Supreme Court, where he is being tried as a slave owner and is getting a lot of hatred because of his race. He proceeds to tell the story of how he got there, spending lots of time getting to the crux of the story.

The beginning of the book, where he satirizes his upbringing as a subject of his father’s childhood development experiments, is over the top but amusing. When he introduces the character of Hominy Jenkins, the last surviving Little Rascal, his all-on employment of racial stereotypes (to make fun of them, of course) was too much for me. I quit about halfway, after he reluctantly made Hominy his slave.

Be warned that this novel makes extensive use of the N word. I’m not sure, but Beatty’s intent may be to desensitize us to it. If so, it didn’t work.

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3 thoughts on “Review 1374: The Sellout

  1. Silvia July 18, 2019 / 6:29 pm

    Wow. I don’t know anymore. Has the desire to teach superceded our need for art, for love, our right to be delighted and thus become intelligent and loving persons?

    Maybe it fills a need. I thought that literature was, to give you an example, when we are sick, to be fed a comforting soup, but your review sounds like this is a canned version, lol.

  2. Geoff W July 23, 2019 / 9:30 am

    So many of the Booker Prize winners are baffling. I often find those that are on the shortlist but didn’t win to be that much better than the winner! I have a copy of this one and will read it at some point, but I’m not dying to read it.

    • whatmeread July 23, 2019 / 10:58 am

      With some exceptions, I agree with you.

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