Paul Beatty is First American Writer to Win Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Posted on October 26, 2016

Paul Beatty author photo

Paul Beatty just became the first American writer to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In 2014 the award was opened up to non-British authors, much to the consternation of British writers. Beatty won the prestigious British literary ward for his novel, The Sellout, a brilliantly funny satire on race relations in today's America.

The Sellout is narrated by Bonbon, an African American who lives in the town of Dickens in Los Angeles county. The county has removed Dickens from the map due to embarassment over the town. Bonbon was raised by his father who subjected him to a number of sociological experiments. When the town went off the rails Bonbon attempted to regain civil order by reinstituting slavery and segregation in the local high school. This did not go over well and Bonbon is now being sued in the Supreme Court.

The Man Booker chair of the judges Amanda Foreman said that the book managed "to eviscerate every social taboo." She also called the novel one for our times and complimented Beatty's "absolutely savage wit" that she compared to Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain. The judges' vote was an unanimous decision.

Beatty accepted the prize from the Duchess of Cornwall at London's Guildhall last night. He also accepted prize money of £50,000. An overwhelmed Beatty told the audience that he didn't want to be overdramatic by saing that writing saved his life, but explained that, "Writing's given me a life." He said of his novel, "This is a hard book. It was a hard for me to write, I know it's hard to read. Everyone's coming at it from different angles." He also joked later that he hates writing.

Mr. Beatty Paul Beatty has written two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is also the author of the novels: Slumberland, Tuff and The White Boy Shuffle. A New York City resident, he is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor.

Photo: Man Booker Prize

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