Bokcirkel online: Göteborgs stadsbibliotek läser The Sellout
Back in 2008, when Barack Obama came out of nowhere to win the presidential election, many Americans, myself included, wept for joy. Growing up, I never thought I’d see the day when America would elect a black president.
Race relations in America are a mess, like an overgrown rain forest. Leading us through this jungle, with his machete of a book, is Paul Beatty. The Sellout is set in the fictitious agrarian ghetto of Dickens, just outside Los Angeles. The narrator, BonBon (aka The Sellout), is raised by his radical father, an academic psychologist, in an incubator of radical black thought and politics. BonBon describes his childhood in an early scene:
When I was seven months, Pops placed objects like toy police cars, cold cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Richard Nixon campaign buttons, and a copy of The Economist in my bassinet, but instead of conditioning me with a deafening clang, I learned to be afraid of the presented stimuli because they were accompanied by him taking out the family .38 Special and firing several window-rattling rounds into the ceiling, while shouting ‘Nigger go back to Africa!’ loud enough to make himself heard over the…stereo blasting ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in the living room. To this day I’ve never been able to sit through a TV crime drama, I have a strange affinity for Neil Young, and whenever I have trouble sleeping, I don’t listen to recorded rainstorms or crashing waves but to the Watergate tapes.
The Sellout is an extremely funny book. It’s also difficult to read. The plot isn’t complicated – BonBon takes on the cause of putting Dickens back on the map, eventually taking a slave and reintroducing segregation on the local buses, and is brought before the Supreme Court. But the plot is really secondary to the wonderful writing that reads almost like stand-up comedy, or a skit from Dave Chappelle’s immensely successful show (many reviews have compared Beatty to Chappelle and Richard Prior, as well as Mark Twain). Beatty takes swipes at the left as well as the right, at political correctness, pop culture, Afro-centric intellectuals, and most of all the idea that America is a post-racial society.
On March 27 we begun discussing The Sellout in four parts. To take part in the discussion, join our Facebook group “Göteborgs Stadsbibliotek läser The Sellout” and check out The Sellout in whichever format best suits you.
//Reynolds Towns, bibliotekarie på Göteborgs stadsbibliotek
27 mars startade vår bokcirkel online där vi läser Man Booker Prize vinnaren Paul Beattys The Sellout. Diskussionen förs både på engelska och svenska.
//Sofia Olausson, bibliotekarie på Göteborgs stadsbibliotek