A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game.
Born in Dickens on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in his father's racially charged psychological studies. He is told that his father’s work will lead to a memoir that will solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a drive-by shooting, he discovers there never was a memoir. All that’s left is a bill for a drive-through funeral.
What’s more, Dickens has literally been wiped off the map to save California from further embarrassment. Fuelled by despair, the narrator sets out to right this wrong with the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.
In his trademark absurdist style, which has the uncanny ability to make readers want to both laugh and cry, The Sellout is an outrageous and outrageously entertaining indictment of our time.
I read the synopsis for this novel when it won the Booker Prize and thought it sounded really interesting - so I requested a copy for review.
Unfortunately the book did not live up to my expectations. There were parts that were laugh out loud funny, but there was so much that either went over my head or was an American reference that I just didn't understand.
I did find this book very tiring to read and was unable to read it for long periods of time.This is one man's story told in the first person and the dialogue felt like it went at a hundred miles an hour with no pauses for a breath. It was ok for a while, but a whole book? I felt exhausted. Think of going to see a stand up and him talking for 4 hours - I just lost focus every so often.
I kept going with the book because there were bursts of dialogue that really grabbed me and I loved it - thought I was finally getting it, but then it would fade away from me again. I loved the writer who was rewriting books.
I appreciate that this is great writing, with some powerful thinking - it is probably a great book, I'm sure a reading group would spend ages discussing it, it's just not for me. I would compare the writing to that in Catcher in the Rye - another great book and another that was not really for me.
I'm giving this book 2 out of 5 stars.
My thanks to to Netgalley for supplying me with a copy of the book for review.