Paul Beatty is the first American to win the Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Sellout. The rules were changed three years ago to allow anyone of any nationality to win, as long as they wrote in English and were published in the UK. The New York Times called his novel, “a blistering satire about race in America.”
Beatty’s agent told The Guardian that The Sellout was hard to publish in the UK: It was turned down 18 times before OneWorld Publications took it on. OneWorld, an independent publishing house, also published Marlon James‘, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which won the Man Booker last year.
Beatty told The Guardian, “Sometimes I romanticize – I go back even to the Harlem renaissance, when people would say, ‘This book isn’t going to sell but I believe in you.’ I think there’s still some of that in publishing. I hope there’s still some of that.”
The five judges were more than pleased with The Sellout snagging the award. They were, according to The New York Times, “unanimous in their decision” and “cited the novel’s inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice”. There is no better time than now for such a prestigious award to go to a subversive book about the very real consequences of racism in America. Many journalists from The New York Times to The Gaurdian, have commented on how unique of a choice Beatty’s book is. The Man Booker prize tends to favor “well-mannered historical epics”, whereas The Sellout is “rechlessly, scabrously funny,” writes Claire Armistead.
We are thrilled that Beatty has joined the Man Booker list of well-deserved winners.
Featured image courtesy of The New York Times