MAN ABOUT TOWN

YOU (South Africa) - - CHILL OUT -

It’s not ev­ery day you get to in­ter­view a Man Booker Prize win­ner, so when US au­thor Paul Beatty was in Cape Town re­cently we jumped at the chance to chat to him and find out what makes him tick.

The au­thor was cat­a­pulted to in­ter­na­tional fame last year when he be­came the first Amer­i­can to win the pres­ti­gious lit­er­ary prize for The Sell­out, his out­ra­geously funny take on US race re­la­tions. Where do you keep your Booker Prize tro­phy? “Oh, I don’t even know where it is. My mom has it – she was very proud of me when I won it.” What are the perks of win­ning the Booker? “The book sales help and the recog­ni­tion is nice – but it’s not some­thing I’m com­fort­able with so I’m go­ing to have to fig­ure out how to deal with it.” If some­one had never heard any­thing about your book, how would you ex­plain it to them? “I wouldn’t even try. I think it’s the case with ev­ery­thing I write – my books [The White Boy Shuf­fle, Tuff and The Sell­out] are hard to cat­e­gorise. It’s hard for me to give a syn­op­sis of them.

“Fun­da­men­tally they’re books about peo­ple with no tools try­ing to do the im­pos­si­ble. All my books are about that at some level.” What makes you an­gry? “My own sense of my­opia.” A word that you overuse. “I no­tice I use the word ‘sup­posed’ a lot, as in ‘he was a sup­posed spy’. ” The one book peo­ple might be sur­prised to know you’ve never read. “I never read The Catcher in the Rye – I some­how missed that one.” What book has im­pressed you re­cently? “Dept. of Spec­u­la­tion by Jenny Of­fill. It’s the best book I’ve read in the past few months.”

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