Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Paul Beatty’s The Sellout: A Book Review

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Paul Beatty’s The Sellout has no boundaries, no qualms, and holds no punches. In a spirited satire, Beatty tackles race relations through the eyes of his black protagonist, sometimes called Me, others Master, others a sellout. This man, a son of a sociologist who performed racial experiments on him until he was gunned down by police in a headline worthy event, is skilled farmer and pillar of the community known as Dickens. Yet Dickens sees itself wasting away—its identity is being pulled, it is being neglected as a blight on society, and the numerous racial minorities within it are wallowing in generation poverty. Thus Beatty takes on the issues the American society often ignores, and in doing so invokes every bone of Swiftian satire with a modern twist.

The narrator goes the extra mile in every facet of his life. He re-segregates schools, paints borders around the seemingly forgotten municipality, takes a slave who himself feels beholden to the fact that society has forgotten him and his life on The Little Rascals, and in the process, he restores prosperity. Written in the age of Obama, Beatty seems to challenge the idea of the post-racial society that Trump has detonated with a nuclear missile. Racial problems still exists, and in Beatty’s creation, the white children are bussed to the now highly performing school in the ghetto only to watch a black man douse himself in white paint. It is here that the unnamed black Supreme Court Justice, known by all to be Clarence Thomas, calls out a radical thinker for setting his race back. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will wonder as you walk through this satirical beauty.

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