American author Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize award on Tuesday in London. Beatty, the first American to win the prize, came in ahead of five other authors with his satirical novel The Sellout. While he will receive £50,000 (approximately Rs 41 lakh), each of the five other shortlisted authors will get £2,500 (approximately Rs 2 lakh ).
The five other books that were vying for the award were His Bloody Project, by Graeme Macrae Burnet), All that Man Is, by David Szalay, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien, Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy, and Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh. The shortlisted authors are from Britain, Canada and the United States.
The jury, led by Amanda Foreman, included Jon Day, Abdulrazak Gunrah, David Harsent and Olivia Williams. Before the winner was announced, Foreman had told AFP, "The final six reflect the centrality of the novel in modern culture – in its ability to champion the unconventional, to explore the unfamiliar, and to tackle difficult subjects."
The Sellout is Beatty's fourth novel. It plays with contemporary racism by presenting a wildly funny story about a Black American who reintroduces slavery and racism in a Los Angeles suburb. Lauded by critics as superlatively biting satire, the book had already garnered rave reviews even before the award.
According to Amanda Foreman, the chair of the judges, "The Sellout is one of those very rare books that is able to take satire, which is in itself a very difficult subject and not always done well, and it plunges into the heart of contemporary American society with absolutely savage wit of the kind I haven't seen since Swift or Twain."
Foreman added, "It both manages to eviscerate every social taboo and politically correct nuance, every sacred cow, while both making us laugh and wince. It is both funny and painful at the same time, and it is really a novel for our times."
"I can't tell you how long this journey has been," said Beatty, who was born in 1962, in his acceptance speech. "Writing has given me a life."
In 2015, Jamaican author Marlon James had won the prize for his A Brief History of Seven Killings. The prize was instituted in 1969.