Credit goes to our book buyer Buddha and event manager Lauren for convincing me to read this book. And now I'm crediting myself with this attempt to get you to read it, because it is, in a word, ___________. (I can't think of a word good enough to describe it.) I almost got into a car accident in the In-N-Out drive-thru because I refused to put it down. The cashier looked at me like I was insane, which I was, temporarily, because this book is insane. From the moment I started it I clung to it like a vestigial fetus, and now that I'm finished, I feel, like the twin who survives by consuming its other half, indebted to it. It is an addictive book. It's hilarious and tragic. It somehow approaches slavery, "that peculiar institution," with both levity and severity. How could a novel about a modern day black slave owner be anything other than ironic, absurd, and fascinating? But it's more than that too. In spite of its complexity and brilliance, it reads quick, if you want it to, but my recommendation is that you draw it out as much as you can, because when it's over, you'll never read anything like it again.— Joel
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: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since the '68 quake."
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.
Fuelled 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--he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.