Paul Beatty Wins 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Posted on March 20, 2016

Cover of The Sellout by Paul Beatty

American author Paul Beatty has won the fiction category of the National Book Critics Circle Award for his fourth novel, The Sellout. The novel was described by The New York Times as the year's "most cheerfully outrageous satire" about race relations in America. But Beatty himself resists the satirist label he's been given by reviewers.

In an interview with The Paris Review about The Sellout, Beatty was asked if he considers himself a satirist. He replied that he does not, because that would limit how he could write about things. He explains, "I'm just writing. Some of it's funny. I’m surprised that everybody keeps calling this a comic novel. I mean, I get it. But it's an easy way not to talk about anything else. I would better understand it if they talked about it in a hyphenated way, to talk about it as a tragicomic novel, even. There's comedy in the book, but there’s a bunch of other stuff in there, too. It's easy just to hide behind the humor, and then you don’t have to talk about anything else. But I definitely don't think of myself as a satirist."

Sam Quinones picked up the General Nonfiction award for Dreamland: The True Story of America's Opiate Epidemic. Margo Jefferson won the Autobiography award for her book Negroland. Maggie Nelson won the Criticism award for The Argonauts. The Biography award went to Charlotte Gordon for her work, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley. Ross Gay won the Poetry award for Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude.

The John Leonard Prize for best first book in any genre was awarded to Kristin Valdez Quade for Night at the Fiestas: Stories. the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award went to poet, essayist and environmentalist Wendell Barry. Washington Post critic Carlos Lozada received the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. You can watch the entire awards ceremony here:



Photo: Macmillan

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