Thursday, October 27, 2016

Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" wins 2016 Man Booker Prize

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Submitted by Alice on Tue, 2016-10-25
Man Booker Prize 2016 winner ------------------------------
The Sellout by Paul Beatty is named
winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for
Fiction. The Sellout is published by small
independent publisher Oneworld, who had
their first win in 2015 with Marlon James'
A Brief History of Seven Killings .
The 54-year-old New York resident, born
in Los Angeles, is the first American author
to win the prize in its 48-year history. US
authors became eligible in 2014. The 2016
shortlist included two British, two US, one
Canadian and one British-Canadian writer.
The Sellout is a searing satire on race
relations in contemporary America. The
Sellout is described by The New York
Times as a 'metaphorical multicultural pot
almost too hot to touch', whilst the Wall
Street Journal called it a 'Swiftian satire of
the highest order. Like someone shouting
fire in a crowded theatre, Mr. Beatty has
whispered "Racism" in a postracial world.'
The book is narrated by African-American
'Bonbon', a resident of the run-down town
of Dickens in Los Angeles county, which
has been removed from the map to save
California from embarrassment. Bonbon is
being tried in the Supreme Court for
attempting to reinstitute slavery and
segregation in the local high school as
means of bringing about civic order. What
follows is a retrospective of this whirlwind
scheme, populated by cartoonish
characters who serve to parody racial
stereotypes. The framework of institutional
racism and the unjust shooting of
Bonbon's father at the hands of police are
particularly topical.
Amanda Foreman, 2016 Chair of judges,
comments: ' The Sellout is a novel for our
times. A tirelessly inventive modern satire,
its humour disguises a radical
seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred
cows with abandon and takes aim at racial
and political taboos with wit, verve and a
Though Beatty cites satirists Joseph Heller
and Kurt Vonnegut as formative influences,
he remarked to The Paris Review that he
was 'surprised that everybody keeps
calling this a comic novel… I'm not sure
how I define it.'
This is the second consecutive Man
Booker Prize success for independent
publisher Oneworld, following Marlon
James' win with A Brief History of Seven
Killings in 2015.
Amanda Foreman was joined on the 2016
panel of judges by Jon Day , Abdulrazak
Gurnah , David Harsent and Olivia Williams .
The judges considered 155 books for this
year's prize, including a total of 11 call-
In addition to his £50,000 prize and trophy,
Beatty also receives a designer bound
edition of his book and a further £2,500 for
being shortlisted.
On winning the Man Booker Prize, an
author can expect international recognition,
plus a dramatic increase in book sales.
Last year's winning novel, A Brief History
of Seven Killings by Marlon James, has
gone on to sell over 360,000 copies in the
UK and Commonwealth, as well as
120,000 in the US. When accepting his
prize, James said, 'I just met Ben Okri and
it just reminded me of how much of my
literary sensibilities were shaped by the
Man Booker Prize… It suddenly increases
your library by 13 books.'
Other recent winners have included Hilary
Mantel (2012 and 2009), whose Wolf Hall
and Bring Up the Bodies have led to
award-winning adaptations on stage and
screen, and Julian Barnes (2011), whose
The Sense of an Ending will soon be
adapted for film. Other winning novels that
have gone on to have second or third lives
on stage and screen include Schindler's
Ark (directed by Steven Spielberg as
Schindler's List ), The Remains of the Day
and The English Patient.
This is the third year that the prize has
been open to writers of any nationality,
writing originally in English and published
in the UK. Previously, the prize was open
only to authors from the UK &
Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and
Zimbabwe. The 2016 shortlist included two
British, two US, one Canadian and one
British-Canadian writer.
First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker
Prize is recognised as the leading award
for high quality literary fiction written in
English. Its list of winners features many of
the giants of the last four decades: from
Salman Rushdie to Margaret Atwood , Iris
Murdoch to JM Coetzee .
Paul Beatty's win was announced by
Amanda Foreman at a black-tie dinner at
London's Guildhall, where he was
presented with a trophy from HRH The
Duchess of Cornwall and a £50,000 cheque
from Luke Ellis, Chief Executive of Man
Group. Guests at the event, which was
broadcast live on the BBC News Channel,
included the shortlisted authors, well-
known figures from the literary world and
VIPs including AS Byatt, Ben Okri, Karen
Bradley, John Hurt and Fiona Shaw.
Paul Beatty will take part in will take part
in his first public event as winner at a New
Statesman-partnered event at Foyles on
Friday 28 October 2016.
Royal Mail is issuing a congratulatory
postmark featuring the winner's name,
which will be applied to millions of items
of stamped mail nationwide from
Wednesday 26 to Saturday 29 October
2016. It will say 'Congratulations to Paul
Beatty, winner of the 2016 Man Booker
Man Group has sponsored the prize since
2002. One of the world's largest
independent alternative investment
managers, Man Group is a partner that
mirrors the quality, integrity and longevity
of the prize.