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American Author Paul Beatty Bags Man Booker Prize for ‘The Sellout’

Man Booker Prize, 1st American winner, Paul Beatty

The 2015 book The Sellout by American author Paul Beatty bagged the Man Booker Prize. The book is an engaging novel that transports readers to a fictitious Los Angeles neighborhood.

The New York Times, which reviewed Beatty’s first book The White Boy Shuffle and published his essay on Black Humor, tweeted that The Sellout is a “blistering satire about race in America.”

Being one who is inclined to shun labels and conventions, the Los Angeles-born author recoiled at the use of the word satire to categorize his book, saying that may be a way of masking the sad realities or “sense of futility” in the book. Overall, it is an interesting read that reflects not just Beatty’s interest and study of Psychology but his creative writing

Beatty, on hindsight, said in interviews it feels weird that the recipient of the prestigious British prize almost did not get the nod of approval of UK publishers.  His fourth novel was refused by no lower than 18 publishers, later on deducing that the book may have treaded on very unconventional and unfamiliar territory, from a black man’s perspective.

Readers have described the book as hilarious yet honest mockery of American politics. Beatty, 54, received 50,000 pounds ($61,000) for the plum prize that used to be open only to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth. Organizers changed the rules for a global scope.

Beatty’s triumph carries two distinctions. First, he is the first American to win the coveted Man Booker Prize. Second, it is rare for a serious subject matter like race, slavery and segregation in America, to use a comic approach.

In other news, American musician and writer Bob Dylan, at 75, was bestowed the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. The selection of Dylan set off a debate on whether song lyrics have the same artistic value as a novel or a literary piece like poetry. The award was not publicly acknowledged, though.

Paul Beatty, for his part, received his Man Booker Prize from British royal Camilla Parker Bowles.

Photo Source: Timothy Valentine/Flickr

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