Paul Beatty is the author of the novels, Tuff, Slumberland and The White Boy Shuffle, and the poetry collections Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He was the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor.
Paul grew up in California and moved to the East Coast for his higher education. Paul has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College and an MA in psychology from Boston University. In 1990, he was the first person crowned as Grand Poetry Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which led to his first book deal. Paul has performed poetry on MTV and PBS.
Paul is the recipient of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for his most recent novel, The Sellout. The Sellout is also the winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and was named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal. He currently lives in New York City.Download Bio
THE SELLOUTA Novel
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.
THE WHITE BOY SHUFFLEA Novel
Paul Beatty's hilarious and scathing debut novel is about Gunnar Kaufman, an awkward, black surfer bum who is moved by his mother from Santa Monica to urban West Los Angeles. There, he begins to undergo a startling transformation from neighborhood outcast to basketball superstar, and eventually to reluctant messiah of a "divided, downtrodden people."
Paul Beatty discusses his writing process, novels, and the art of fiction in an engaging and inspired talk.
BBC News covers Paul Beatty’s win as the first American to receive the Man Booker Prize.
Paul brings a fresh and interesting voice on finding humor in issues of race in his piece for The New York Times.
Paul Beatty talks about what it felt like to be involved with the Man Booker Prize on the award’s website.
Read Paul Beatty’s take on America in the age of Trump, and how ‘Trump’s America’ has always been his reality in The Guardian.
— Rolling Stone on Paul Beatty
Praise for The Sellout:
“The first 100 pages of [Paul Beatty's] new novel, The Sellout, are the most caustic and the most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I've read in at least a decade. I gave up underlining the killer bits because my arm began to hurt . . . [They] read like the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility . . . The jokes come up through your spleen . . . The riffs don't stop coming in this landmark and deeply aware comic novel . . . [It] puts you down in a place that's miles from where it picked you up.”
— Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Powered by a wicked wit, with characters who speak a pop-philosopher patois, this is a funny and daring novel that subverts harmful cultural assumptions…It’s this deliberate subversion of harmful cultural assumptions that makes this daring and abrasive novel a joy to read—the furthest thing imaginable from a selling out of anyone.” —The Guardian “[The Sellout] is among the most important and difficult American novels written in the 21st century . . . It is a bruising novel that readers will likely never forget.”
— Kiese Laymon, Los Angeles Times
“The Sellout is a hilarious, pop-culture-packed satire about race in America. Beatty writes energetically, providing insight as often as he elicits laughs.”
— The Huffington Post
“Swiftian satire of the highest order . . . Giddy, scathing and dazzling.”
— Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“The Sellout isn't just one of the most hilarious American novels in years, it also might be the first truly great satirical novel of the century . . . [It] is a comic masterpiece, but it's much more than just that-it's one of the smartest and most honest reflections on race and identity in America in a very long time.”
— Michael Schaub, NPR.org
“In . . . one short passage you see more and better comedy, cultural insight, political commentary, anger, grief, truth than you would ever hope to find in any number of entire carefully-plotted contemporary novels. And there are many just-as-inspired moments throughout The Sellout.”
— The Boston Globe
“Beatty, author of the deservedly highly praised The White Boy Shuffle (1996), here outdoes himself and possibly everybody else in a send-up of race, popular culture, and politics in today's America . . . Beatty hits on all cylinders in a darkly funny, dead-on-target, elegantly written satire . . . [The Sellout] is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and, in the way of the great ones, profoundly thought provoking. A major contribution.”
— Mark Levin, Booklist (starred review)
“The Sellout is brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.”
— Sarah Silverman, comedian, writer, and actress
“I am glad that I read this insane book alone, with no one watching, because I fell apart with envy, hysterics, and flat-out awe. Is there a more fiercely brilliant and scathingly hilarious American novelist than Paul Beatty?”
— Ben Marcus, author of Leaving the Sea: Stories
“Paul Beatty has always been one of smartest, funniest, gutsiest writers in America, but The Sellout sets a new standard. It's a spectacular explosion of comic daring, cultural provocation, brilliant, hilarious prose, and genuine heart.”
— Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask