THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty
Kirkus Star


Email this review


The provocative author of The White Boy Shuffle (1996) and Slumberland (2008) is back with his most penetratingly satirical novel yet.

Beatty has never been afraid to stir the pot when it comes to racial and socioeconomic issues, and his latest is no different. In fact, this novel is his most incendiary, and readers unprepared for streams of racial slurs (and hilarious vignettes about nearly every black stereotype imaginable) in the service of satire should take a pass. The protagonist lives in Dickens, “a ghetto community” in Los Angeles, and works the land in an area called “The Farms,” where he grows vegetables, raises small livestock and smokes a ton of “good weed.” After being raised by a controversial sociologist father who subjected him to all manner of psychological and social experiments, the narrator is both intellectually gifted and extremely street-wise. When Dickens is removed from the map of California, he goes on a quest to have it reinstated with the help of Hominy Jenkins, the last surviving Little Rascal, who hangs around the neighborhood regaling everyone with tales of the ridiculously racist skits he used to perform with the rest of the gang. It’s clear that Hominy has more than a few screws loose, and he volunteers to serve as the narrator’s slave—yes, slave—on his journey. Another part of the narrator’s plan involves segregating the local school so that it allows only black, Latino and other nonwhite students. Eventually, he faces criminal charges and appears in front of the Supreme Court in what becomes “the latest in a long line of landmark race-related cases.” Readers turned off by excessive use of the N-word or those who are easily offended by stereotypes may find the book tough going, but fans of satire and blatantly honest—and often laugh-out-loud funny—discussions of race and class will be rewarded on each page. Beatty never backs down, and readers are the beneficiaries.

Another daring, razor-sharp novel from a writer with talent to burn.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-374-26050-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2015


FictionTHE MARE by Mary Gaitskill
by Mary Gaitskill
FictionCITY ON FIRE by Garth Risk Hallberg
by Garth Risk Hallberg
FictionDELICIOUS FOODS by James Hannaham
by James Hannaham
FictionTHE COMPLETE STORIES by Clarice Lispector
by Clarice Lispector
FictionTHE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO by Anthony Marra
by Anthony Marra
FictionTHE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty
by Paul Beatty


FictionSLUMBERLAND by Paul Beatty
by Paul Beatty
FictionTUFF by Paul Beatty
by Paul Beatty
FictionTHE WHITE BOY SHUFFLE by Paul Beatty
by Paul Beatty


IndieThe President's Butler by Laurence Leamer
by Laurence Leamer
IndieThe People's House by David Pepper
by David Pepper
FictionKNUCKLEHEAD by Adam Smyer
by Adam Smyer
FictionADJUSTMENT DAY by Chuck Palahniuk
by Chuck Palahniuk
FictionHEADS OF THE COLORED PEOPLE by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
by Nafissa Thompson-Spires