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Paul Beatty Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The White Boy Shuffle (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tuff (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Slumberland (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Sellout (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Hokum (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Paul Beatty is a contemporary African American author born in Los Angeles in 1962.

+Biography

Even though he made his biggest splash in the early 2010s, Paul Beatty has been around for quite a long time; though, his presence during those earlier years was best appreciated by those with a keen interest in the publishing industry.

Following his days at El Camino Real High, Beatty went to Boston University where he acquired an MA in Psychology. This was after acquiring an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College.

Beatty’s love for writing and, especially poetry manifested quite early; by 1990, the author was the Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Champion. He went on to produce and publish a volume of poetry, a feat he accomplished as a result of the book deal his Nuyorican Poets Café prize earned him.

Beatty is heavily entrenched in the African American community and it shows in the books he writes as well as the topics he tackles. Despite his love for storytelling, Beatty spent quite a few years playing within the field of poetry.

It wasn’t until 1996 that Beatty delivered his first novel. ‘The White Boy Shuffle’ was well received, its satirical approach garnering positive reviews from various circles. Despite the relative success of ‘The White Boy Shuffle’, though, Beatty didn’t immediately follow up the novel with another.

Indeed, it wasn’t until 2000 that Beatty saw fit to deliver another novel. These gaps between Paul Beatty’s novels only seemed to grow after that, though some people might remember the author’s efforts in editing ‘Hokum’, an anthology of African American humor.

Some critics have questioned Paul Beatty’s approach to publishing. While Beatty has showed signs of breaking out as an author, his work has never truly received mainstream traction.

Though, 2015 was definitely one of his bigger years. Beatty’s novel ‘The Sellout’ was released to rave reviews. The book, which followed a farmer in modern times that attempts to bring slavery back, earned Beatty the title of funniest author in America.

The satire, which took Beatty five years to complete, earned him a Man Booker Prize, making him the first American to take that award home since 2014 when English Language novels became eligible.

Beatty has admitted that he eventually chose to write the novel because he had run out of money, and the novel availed him an opportunity to resolve some financial issues.

Beatty is very vocal about racial issues. Beatty has sparked debate for suggesting that Racism in the United States hasn’t changed for the positive since the 1980s and that people have simply learned to adapt to new types of discrimination.

Beatty has never been one to suggest ways of moving beyond the racial issue; instead, he simply works to highlight the issue whenever it arises.

+The Sellout

This story is narrated by an individual who was born in the ghetto on the Southern Outskirts of Los Angeles. For the narrator, there is no bright future, no greater dream to hope for.

He is all but certain that he will eventually perish in the same bedroom where he grew up, looking up at the cracks in the ceiling. The Narrator’s father, who raised him alone, was a controversial sociologist.

He had no qualms about making his son the subject of racially charged psychological studies which should have pulled the family out of their financial quagmire once published in a memoir.

Except, the narrator’s father was killed in a police shootout. The narrator must then deal with the despair that has come to consume his hometown, not to mention his sense of betrayal over his father’s lies about the nonexistent memoir.

When the California Map is altered to remove the embarrassment of his town, the narrator sets out to right this wrong. With the help of Hominy Jenkins, the narrator takes some drastic measures that land him in serious trouble, this including reinstating slavery.

Everyone has described this as a very biting satire, and that much cannot be disputed. The protagonist, a black man, attempts to reinstate slavery and even acquires a slave; an action that lands puts him on the wrong side of the law.

If that was enough, he goes so far as to attempt to re-segregate his city, which is now more Hispanic than black. This might lead you to question the morality or even the sanity of Paul Beatty’s creation.

However, the narrator’s actions are all part of a plan to save his city, zany as they might be. While the book is definitely hilarious, it also has a lot to say about the issue of race. Most readers will tell you that they hardly know how to talk about this book to their friends, primarily because it touches on so many elements that might be considered off limits.

Paul Beatty’s goal is to question the rationale that the United States could ever overlook something as massively important as race. The biggest drawback of this book is the fact that it doesn’t have much in the way of a plot. Beatty merely endeavors to make social observations, which can get tiresome.

+Slumberland

DJ Darky has just created a beat he is certain approaches perfection. Now, he just needs to find Charles Stone and convince him to play over his masterpiece. However, the jazzman isn’t easy to find.

Darky goes to Berlin shortly after its reunification. He finds a city buzzing with conversation about everything from sex to love and race.

This book proves that Paul Beatty is definitely one of the funniest authors in America. However, Beatty’s humor doesn’t take anything away from his heavy message about race and the problems it elicits.

The novel’s biggest draw is Beatty’s play on words. His wit is quick and sharp and his tale immediately draws readers in. In the hands of any other writer, the novel might have been too scathing.

Yet, Beatty balances the serious and the humorous. His protagonist, a black man in Germany, is the perfect protagonist. Beatty delves into issues of culture and music and how they relate to race. Even if you do not like the heavily racialized nature of the book, you are guaranteed to laugh. Though, for some people that might not be enough to elicit interest.

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