Paul Beatty (born June 9, 1962) is an American author and an associate professor of writing at Columbia University. In 2016, he won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sellout. It was the first time a writer from the United States was honored with the Man Booker.
n 1990, Beatty was crowned the first ever Grand Poetry Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. One of the prizes for winning the championship title was the book deal that resulted in his first volume of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank (1991).This was followed by another book of poetry, Joker, Joker, Deuce (1994), and appearances performing his poetry on MTV and PBS (in the series The United States of Poetry). In 1993, he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.
His first novel, The White Boy Shuffle (1996), received a positive review in The New York Times from reviewer Richard Bernstein, who called the book “a blast of satirical heat from the talented heart of black American life.” His second book, Tuff (2000), received a positive notice in Time magazine. In 2006, Beatty edited an anthology of African-American humor called Hokum and wrote an article in The New York Times on the same subject. His 2008 novel Slumberland was about an American DJ in Berlin.
In his 2015 novel The Sellout, Beatty chronicles an urban farmer who tries to spearhead a revitalization of slavery and segregation in a fictional Los Angeles neighborhood. In The Guardian, Elisabeth Donnelly described it as “a masterful work that establishes Beatty as the funniest writer in America”, while reviewer Reni Eddo-Lodge called it a “whirlwind of a satire”, going on to say: “Everything about The Sellout’s plot is contradictory. The devices are real enough to be believable, yet surreal enough to raise your eyebrows.” The book took over five years to complete.
The Sellout was awarded the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction,and the 2016 Man Booker Prize. Beatty is the first American to have won the Man Booker Prize, for which all English-language novels became eligible in 2014.
Awards and honors
- 2009 Creative Capital Award for The Sellout
- 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award (Fiction), winner for The Sellout.
- 2016 Man Booker Prize winner for The Sellout.
- 2017 International Dublin Literary Award long-list for The Sellout
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