Paul Beatty, CLSC Author, The Sellout

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Location Hall of Philosophy

Gate pass required. Purchase at our Main Gate Welcome Center; (716) 357-6250

A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality ― the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens ― on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles ― the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians. Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident ― the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins ― the narrator initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, novelist and poet Paul Beatty is among the funniest and most fearless writers in contemporary fiction. In a voice both acerbic and expansive, Beatty creates unforgettable characters and haunting settings that strike at the very heart of race, pop culture, and language in America. He is the author of Slumberland, The White Boy Shuffle and Tuff, and the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He is also the author of two volumes of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce, and a contributor to a slam poetry collection, Slam! Poetry: Heftige Dichtung aus Amerika. 

With The Sellout, Beatty became the first American author to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. 

For his CLSC presentation, Beatty will be interviewed by Ron Charles, editor of The Washington Post’s “Book World.”

Ron Charles is the fiction editor of The Washington Post. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest before becoming a journalist. Before moving to DC, he edited the books section of the Christian Science Monitor in Boston. His wife is an English teacher and the cinematographer of their satirical YouTube series, “The Totally Hip Video Book Review.”