The Sellout: The first American novel to win the Booker Prize
Play • 36 min

In 2014, the Booker Prize broadened its submission rules to allow books from any nationality, as long as they were written in English and published in the UK. This change in eligibility led to worries around whether American novels would dominate the award's nominations, but it wasn't until 2016 when Paul Beatty scooped the prize with The Sellout that the prize went to an author from the States. The Sellout is a biting satire on race relations told through its protagonist, who is on trial for trying to reinstate slavery and segregation – and this week on the podcast, we're revisiting the story.

In this episode Jo and James:

  • Consider what the inclusion of American authors and novels has meant for the Booker Prize
  • Share a brief biography of Paul Beatty
  • Give a slightly spoiler-y summary of The Sellout
  • Discuss whether the novel is an on-point laugh-a-minute satire or a relentlessly nihilistic trudge
  • Try to get to the bottom of what Paul Beatty is trying to say through this novel
  • Chat about whether the question of who something is for can really be answered authentically
  • Suggest who should read The Sellout

Reading list:

  • The White Boy Shuffle
  • Tuff
  • Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor
  • Slumberland
  • The Sellout

Further resources:

A full transcript of the episode is available at our website.

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