The Sellout, by Paul Beatty

 Photo from Publishers' Weekly

Photo from Publishers' Weekly

This Man Booker prize wining book is a biting satire about racism in America, the civil rights movement, equality, family relationships, the constitution, dating life, and food choices. The narrator, who we know as "Me" throughout the book, was born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens, located on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles. As gentrification occurs throughout California, Dickens is seen as too far past the point of embarrassment and is literally wiped off the map.

Our "Me" is inspired to bring his hometown back to glory, or at least, to have the name put back onto maps. He enlists help from the last surviving member of the Little Rascals and they bring back segregation to bring order back to their community. 

Full of quips and expletives, this book is funny, culturally provocative, and Beatty never loses the moment throughout the book. One of my favorite passages in the book was when the narrator converts an out of business car wash into a "tunnel of whiteness" for local children, with three different race options:

"Regular Whiteness:
Benefit of the Doubt
Higher Life Expectancy
Lower Insurance Premiums

Deluxe Whiteness:
Regular Whiteness Plus
Warnings instead of Arrests from the Police
Decent Seats at Concerts and Sporting Events
World Revolves Around You and Your Concerns

Super Deluxe Whiteness:
Deluxe Whiteness Plus Jobs with Annual Bonuses
Military Service Is for Suckers
Legacy Admission to College of Your Choice
Therapists That Listen
Boats That You Never Use
All Vices and Bad Habits Referred to as 'Phases'
Not Responsible for Scratches, Dents, and Items Left in the Subconscious"

Beatty's book is dense, as in every sentence leaves you thinking/laughing/googling to see what reference you might have missed.