Paul Beatty wins Man Booker Prize with ‘The Sellout,’ a sendup of race in America

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Author Paul Beatty poses for photographs during a photo-call in London. The author is the first American to win the prize in the award's 48-year history. Photo by Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Author Paul Beatty poses for photographs during a photo-call in London. The author is the first American to win the prize in the award’s 48-year history. Photo by Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Author Paul Beatty is the winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for his book “The Sellout,” which satirizes racial politics in the U.S., announced today by this year’s judging panel.

Beatty, 54, is the first American ever to win the award. The prize rules were expanded to allow writers of any nationality to be considered whose books were published in the U.K. Beatty’s satire beat out 155 competitors.

Lead judge Amanda Foreman called “The Sellout” a “novel for our times,” whose humor “disguises a radical seriousness.”

“Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl,” she added.

The book’s African-American narrator seeks to resegregate a local school, among other controversial decisions, that skewers the country’s history of racism.

A New York resident who was born in Los Angeles, Beatty told the NewsHour last year that the book, firstly, was criticizing himself.

“I’m skewering things that I care about and things that are important to me and then just my own foibles,” he said, adding that the book explored the “absurdities in the way we talk about race, class, culture, education, politics.”

[Watch Video]

Beatty’s book “The Sellout” offers a satirical skewering of racial politics in America. Jeffrey Brown speaks with the author about not being afraid to say taboo things and the ways the U.S. is still segregated.

Published last year, the book previously won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

On top of a cash prize of 50,000 pounds, or more than $60,000, Beatty will receive a trophy and a special edition of his book. When Beatty was shortlisted before the final decision, he also received another $3,000.

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