The Sellout by Paul Beatty Discussion Guide: Home
Articles, Interviews, and Reviews
- Paul Beatty on Race, Violence and His Scathing New Novel 'The Sellout'Rolling Stone, March 24, 2015
- The Inanity of American Plutocracy: On Paul Beatty’s ‘The Sellout’The Millions, March 9, 2015
- Our Thing: An Interview with Paul BeattyThe Paris Review, May 7, 2015
- 'The Sellout' Is A Profane Riff On Race And CultureNPR, February 28, 2015
Other Books by Paul Beatty
- Big Bank Take Little Bank byISBN: 9780962784279Publication Date: 1990-12-01
- Tuff byISBN: 9780385721110Publication Date: 2001-08-21Weighing in at 320 pounds, Winston "Tuffy" Foshay, is an East Harlem denizen who breaks jaws and shoots dogs and dreams of millions from his idea Cap'n Crunch: The Movie, starring Danny DeVito. His best friend is a disabled Muslim who wants to rob banks, his guiding light is an ex-hippie Asian woman who worked for Malcolm X, and his wife, Yolanda, he married from jail over the phone.
- Hokum byISBN: 9781582344348Publication Date: 2006-01-10Selected and introduced by acclaimed novelist and poet Paul Beatty, Hokum is a liberating, eccentric, savagely comic collection of the funniest writing by black Americans.
- Slumberland byISBN: 9781596912403Publication Date: 2008-06-10A breakout novel about a disaffected Los Angeles DJ who travels to post-Wall Berlin in search of his transatlantic doppelganger.
Videos about The Sellout
1. Do you find this book offensive? Why or why not? What other readers might take offense at The Sellout? Why is Paul Beatty's language so incendiary?
2. in his lengthy Barnes & Noble review, Stefan Beck says that The Sellout will "shock all of us into reexamining what we think we know about race in America." Did the book have that effect on you? Did it alter how you, personally, view black-white relations in the US?
3. What is the thematic significance (and humor) in the fact that the father of the book's narrator dropped the double-e from his last name, resulting in the surname Me—and, thus, the title of the Supreme Court case, Me vs. the United States?
4. How off-putting, or difficult, did you find the first 300 pages or so of this book? Was it difficult to follow the narrative thread, to get your "fictional footing"? Why might the author have opened his book with this stylistic technique?
5. What is the purpose of instituting slavery? What does Me hope to accomplish by doing so?
6. What do you think of the white woman who utters this: "[Y]ou're a beautiful woman who just happens to be black, and you're far too smart not to know that it isn't race that's the problem but class"? What do you think of her statement? What do you think the author thinks of it?
7. What about academia? What does Beatty think of black intellectuals and, particularly, the attempt to sanitize Twain's classic?
I also improved Jim's diction, rejiggered the plotline a bit, and retitled the book The Pejorative-Free Adventures and Intellectual and Spiritual Journeys of African-American Jim and His Young Protege, White Brother Huckleberry Finn, as They Go in Search of the Lost Black Family Unit.
(By the way, pay attention to the use of the word "rejiggered.")
8. What is the title's significance? First, what is a sellout?—define it. What is being sold out...or who is being sold out...and who is doing the selling out?
(Questions by LitLovers)
Reserve or Borrow a Copy
- The Sellout byISBN: 9780374260507Publication Date: 2015-03-03A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.
- The White Tiger byISBN: 9781416562597Publication Date: 2008-04-22Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.
- Delicious Foods byISBN: 9780316284943Publication Date: 2015-03-17Held captive by her employers--and by her own demons--on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.
- Welcome to Braggsville byISBN: 9780062302120Publication Date: 2015-02-17A dark and socially provocative Southern-fried comedy about four UC Berkeley students who stage a dramatic protest during a Civil War reenactment.