THE SELL­OUT

North & South - - Review - STACEY ANYAN

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.

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