PAUL BEATTY (ALLEN & UNWIN, $27.99)
You know those trippy dreams you have when you’ve eaten cheese just before going to bed? This book is a bit like that. It’s no bedtime story, though. You’ll need to concentrate to keep up with all the cultural references – from highfalutin to street – and dazzling riffs on race, slathered with subversive wit. The “sellout” in question is our black narrator, who believes reinstating slavery and segregation will save the Los Angeles suburb in which he was raised from being wiped off the map. Yes, really. Chuck is an ageing black child actor pining for the fandom he earned from starring in a racist 1950s TV show and a sociologist employing dubious parenting practices for “research”. Little wonder this satirical mindbender landed the 2016 Man Booker Prize.