The Sellout

By Paul Beatty

Published 2015

GoodReads rating: 3.77  out of 5

GL rating: 3 out of 10 stars

(Comments  originally posted on FB October 7, 2017)

I snapped up this book after I saw two very smart people (don’t remember who) rave about it, separately. It also won the Man Booker, and a co-worker who reads fiction constantly told me that she thinks Man Booker nominees are better overall than their National Book Award counterparts, after I told her I quit reading fiction after reading several award winning novels that were dogs.

I enjoyed the book (and finished it!) but was disappointed. The characterization is ... non-existent. The characters aside from the protagonist are not much more than stick figures. The plot is also lack-luster. The writing itself rarely rises above OK. There were periodic run-on sentences that were clunky and didn’t work.

Where the book succeeds is in painting a rich portrait of life as a black man in South Central LA. Beatty has a keen eye for social observation and detail. It’s billed as a comedic novel and I did get some LOLs out of it. Lastly while the plot was not even close to fully realized, The Sellout is an original story. The protagonist is a bookish farmer in South Central who also is into surfing; the story revolves around his efforts to re-segregate his neighborhood.

So, that’s that. I enjoyed it, glad I read it, but not sure I’d recommend it.