African-American author, Paul Beatty has become the first American to win the Man Booker Prize with his satirical novel, The Sellout.
The winner of the award – which accolades literature which is worthy of ‘recognition, reward and readership’ – was announced in London on 25 October. Beatty was overwhelmed and surprised by the win, declaring that prior to the win he hadn’t had ‘a ton of recognition’ but ‘had a ton of respect’. This was a gratifying moment for Beatty who affirmed that writing had ‘given’ him ‘a new life’.
Not only has the award given the author ‘new life’ but it has given his readers, supporters and industry new inspiration. Beatty is the first American in the 48-year history of the award to win the prize.
The win in itself demonstrates what his novel ironies – the obliteration of racial barriers and the erasure spaces of containment. The African-American author has triumphed over barriers which exclude, overlook and marginalise him.
Beatty’s novel The Sellout, which is set in an ‘agrarian ghetto’, satirises racial identity politics and violence. The main character in the novel, Bonbon, undergoes interrogation by the Supreme Court as a result of his bid to re-instate slavery and re-establish segregation.
The novel, which revisits a historical past, was described by judge, Amanda Foreman to be a ‘novel of our times’. In light of the current, Black Lives Matter advocacy, an evaluation of the African-American experience is relevant.
The aesthetic created by Beatty is of great literary, social and political significance.