The Sellout

The Sellout

Book - 2015
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"Raised by a single father--a controversial sociologist at Riverside Community College--[the narrator] spent his [Los Angeles] childhood as the subject in psychological studies, classic experiments revised to include a racially-charged twist. He also grew up believing this pioneering work might result in a memoir that would solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a shoot-out with the police, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral and some maudlin what-ifs"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374260507
0374260508
9780374712242
Characteristics: 288 pages ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Sell-out

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2015 National Book Critics Circle Award winner for Fiction.


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JCLDevinB Mar 30, 2020

"The Sellout" is a perfect read for those who love dark, witty satire; but reader beware this dense comedy is not for someone looking for an easy laugh or a quick read. The layers of humor, history, and commentary in this masterfully written work demand time to digest.

m
meviousmaddie
Nov 28, 2019

This book is easily one of the sharpest and wittiest books I've ever read; every page is armed to the teeth with satirical quips and biting one-liners. "The Sellout" is a deeply funny and introspective work about race in America's current """"""post-racial""""" political climate. In some ways, the thick layers of pop-culture references, larger-than-life personalities, and narration style in Paul Beatty's writing reminded me - in some sections - of Junot Diaz. Sardonic, thought-provoking and unbelievably funny: highly recommend.

r
RyMac92
Oct 24, 2019

Disappointing because it starts out seeming like a really fresh and interesting story, but just devolves into too much needless despair and gets boring. It's hard to explain because I was hoping it would be a new perspective on modern day life for Black Americans, and it has it's moments, but ultimately it just has a mismatched tone.

I didn't really find it all that funny, more sad than anything. The author tries to be too clever in my opinion and it just doesn't read well.

j
jontalk
May 20, 2019

Similar to some who've commented, I felt Beatty's take on racism in America is brilliant as is the manner of storytelling. The plots are fascinating, characters outlandish, humor the laugh out loud type. The vocabulary of a PhD, wit beyond measure, Paul Beatty is one of the most gifted authors I've encountered. Having grown up in a ghetto, the notion of the "Dum Dum Donut Intellectual Club" is a paradox and funny as heck in its own right. Adding Hominy's Young Rascals stories and desire to be a slave, its a formula for F-U-N! The sheer notion of a farmer in a So LA city is one thing. Adding in the antics, insights his psychologist father handed down while home schooled and those from the others, its one of the more unusual stories ever written. Highly recommended for those who enjoy high brow, outrageous humor, with a dash of ghetto.

e
empbee
May 01, 2019

Good satire of race and a father-son relationship.

w
writermala
Dec 02, 2018

Set in the L.A. suburb of Dickens, "The Sellout" is a darkly funny satire of race, racism, and the myth of the post-racial dream of the Obama era. It's a book in which the narrator tries to re-segrregate schools and bring back slavery. . Beatty is self-consciously embracing certain cliches and stereotypes about race and black Americans only to demolish them. Despite its ambition and distinctive, sardonic voice, there was something about it that I found a little hard to get into, which I can't quite put my finger on.; maybe the coarse language. Still, I'd recommend this to anyone interested in satire and race relations.

d
dgalusha
Oct 14, 2018

This is a superbly written book. One of the best American authored novels I've read in a long long time. It's witty and brilliant, clever and insightful. The author has captured current American culture and suggested a discussion that the country is needing - what is the culture of the black person in America.
This book will be taught in universities, I predict: in anthropology courses, literature courses, political science courses; and it will be appropriate in each place.
I did not find the book vulgar in any sense of the word; rather, I found it honest and direct.

p
pjds1989
Sep 06, 2018

This book was hilarious, great writing, great social commentary. It's definitely vulgar but, you should be used to it if you're familiar with the works of Dave Chappelle, Richard Pryor, and Paul Mooney. The book reads similar to satirical movies and shows like "Family Guy", "Don't Be A Menace", "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka", or Chappelle's Show.

Have Google, Bing, or Wikipedia close by because there will be plenty of linguistic, historical and pop culture references that you'll need to understand to get the joke. There are also public figures and events that he describes to a "T" but does not mention by name, so it's even better if you can relate or have seen some of the mannerisms and ideas at work in real life.

I expected the ending to be more profound or have a hard-hitting social commentary but instead it summarizes the underlying motives of the characters throughout the book and brings you to a "soft landing". I was somewhat disappointed in the ending, but I enjoyed the ride getting there so I still give it 5 stars.

l
LSK898
Jun 24, 2018

WASTE of TIME , + the BOOK's PROMO comments = 3 useless pages , ALSO absolute B.S.

r
richibi
Nov 28, 2017

vulgar from the very first few pages, and with a vengeance, plus with too many derisive comments about people, I had an uncle like that, not especially impressive, despite some erudition - couldn't get past page 4

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Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Dec 13, 2016

The N-word (Skip this if you find the word offensive:)
“This is serious. Brother Mark Twain uses the ‘n-word’ 219 times. That’s .68 ‘n-words’ per page in toto.” “If you ask me, Mark Twain didn’t use the word ‘nigger’ enough,” I mumbled. With my mouth filled with at least four of America’s favorite cookies, I don’t think anyone understood me. I wanted to say more. Like, why blame Mark Twain because you don’t have the patience and courage to explain to your children that the “n-word” exists and that during the course of their sheltered little lives they may one day be called a “nigger” or, even worse, deign to call somebody else a “nigger.” No one will ever refer to them as “little black euphemisms,” so welcome to the American lexicon—Nigger! ...

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

Tons of quotes in goodreads already. Herein is a subset collection of personal interest:

Healthcare:
And if you follow the three-inch-wide stripe out of the waiting room, you’ll crash through two sets of double doors, ... , and then down three flights of filthy unswept stairs until you come to a dingy inner vestibule lit by a dim red bulb. There, the painted line pitchforks into three prongs, each tine leading to the threshold of a pair of unmarked, identical double doors. The first set of doors leads to a back alley, the second to the morgue, and the third to a bank of soda pop and junk-food vending machines. I didn’t solve the racial and class inequalities in health care, but I’m told patients who travel down the brown-black road are more proactive. That when their names are finally called, the first thing they say to the attending physician is “Doctor, before you treat me, I need to know one thing. Do you give a fuck about me? I mean, do you really give a fxck?”

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

Part 1 of 2 on "Separate but Equal:"

Black people don’t even talk about race. Nothing’s attributable to color anymore. It’s all “mitigating circumstances.” The only people discussing “race” with any insight and courage are loud middle-aged white men who romanticize the Kennedys and Motown, well-read open-minded white kids like the tie-dyed familiar sitting next to me in the Free Tibet and Boba Fett T-shirt, a few freelance journalists in Detroit, and the American hikikomori who sit in their basements pounding away at their keyboards composing measured and well-thought-out responses to the endless torrent of racist online commentary. So thank goodness for MSNBC, Rick Rubin, the Black Guy at The Atlantic, Brown University, and the beautiful Supreme Court Justice from the Upper West Side, who, leaning coolly into her microphone, has finally asked the first question that makes any sense:

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

Part 2 of 2 on "Separate but Equal:"

“I think we’ve established the legal quandary here as to whether a violation of civil rights law that results in the very same achievement these heretofore mentioned statutes were meant to promote, yet have failed to achieve, is in fact a breach of said civil rights. What we must not fail to remember is that ‘separate but equal’ was struck down, not on any moral grounds, but on the basis that the Court found that separate can never be equal. And at a minimum, this case suggests we ask ourselves not if separate were indeed equal, but what about ‘separate and not quite equal, but infinitely better off than ever before.’ ...

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

Racism is not just about black:

I remember the day after the black dude was inaugurated, Foy Cheshire, proud as punch, driving around town in his coupe, honking his horn and waving an American flag. He wasn’t the only one celebrating; the neighborhood glee wasn’t O. J. Simpson getting acquitted or the Lakers winning the 2002 championship, but it was close. Foy drove past the crib and I happened to be sitting in the front yard husking corn. “Why are you waving the flag?” I asked him. “Why now? I’ve never seen you wave it before.” He said that he felt like the country, the United States of America, had finally paid off its debts. “And what about the Native Americans? What about the Chinese, the Japanese, the Mexicans, the poor, the forests, the water, the air, the fxcking California condor? When do they collect?” I asked him.

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

The president:
And like that black president, you’d think that after two terms of looking at a dude in a suit deliver the State of the Union address, you’d get used to square watermelons, but somehow you never do.
===
That the popularity of the spicy tuna roll and a black American president were to white male domination what the smallpox blankets were to Native American existence.
===
Here, in America, “integration” can be a cover-up. “I’m not racist. My prom date, second cousin, my president is black (or whatever).” The problem is that we don’t know whether integration is a natural or an unnatural state. Is integration, forced or otherwise, social entropy or social order?
===
“Remember those photos of the black president and his family walking across the White House lawn arm-in-arm. Within those fxcking frames at that instant, and in only that instant, there’s no fxcking racism.”

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

Colored in Hollywood:
In 1933 ... he debuted as the wailing, abandoned Native Baby Boy in the original King Kong. He went on to survive that near Skull Island stomping and has since specialized in portraying black boys from the ages of eight to eighty, including most notably in Black Beauty—Stable Boy (uncredited), War of the Worlds—Paper Boy (uncredited), Captain Blood—Cabin Boy (uncredited), Charlie Chan Joins the Klan—Bus Boy (uncredited). Every film shot in Los Angeles between 1937 and 1964—Shoeshine Boy (uncredited). Other credits include various roles as Messenger Boy, Bell Boy, Bus Boy, Pin Boy, Pool Boy, House Boy, Box Boy, Copy Boy, Delivery Boy, Boy Toy (stag film), Errand Boy, and token Aerospace Engineer Boy in the Academy Award–winning film Apollo 13.
===
There’s a reason there ain’t no black Jonathan Winters, John Candy, W. C. Fields, John Belushi, Jackie Gleason, and Roseanne Barr ... , because a large truly funny black person would scare the bejeezus out of America.

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

Part 1 of 2, an example of those lengthy sentences on a litany of racial surveillances:

But as even the most cursory of those early annual inspections by the California Department of Food and Agriculture bore out, to call 205 Bernard Avenue, that two-acre, just-this-side-of-lunar-surface fertile parcel of land in the most infamous ghetto in Los Angeles County with its hollowed-out 1973 Winnebago Chieftain motor home for a barn, a dilapidated-overcrowded-Section-8-henhouse-topped-by-a-weathervane-so-rusted-in-place-that-the-Santa-Ana-winds-El-Niño-and-the-’83-tornado-couldn’t-move-it,

j
jimg2000
Dec 08, 2016

Part 2 of 2, an example of those lengthy sentences on a litany of racial surveillances:

medfly-infested-two-tree-lemon-grove, three horses, four pigs, a two-legged goat with shopping-cart wheels for back hooves, twelve stray cats, one cow herd of livestock, and the ever-present cumulonimbus cloud of flies that circled the inflatable “fishing” pond of liquefied swamp gas and fermented rat shit that I pulled out of foreclosure on the very same day my dad decided to tell the undercover police officer Edward Orosco to “move his piece o’ shit Ford Crown Victoria and stop blocking the goddamn intersection!” with funds borrowed against what the courts would later determine to be a $2 million settlement for gross miscarriage of justice, to call that unsubsidized tract of inner-city Afro-agrarian ineptitude a “farm” would be to push the limits of literality.

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bradsm1987
Aug 27, 2015

bradsm1987 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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