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Paul Beatty triumph ends 48-year US curse in Booker

By Joe Nerssessian

Published 26/10/2016

Paul Beatty receives the Man Booker Prize from the Duchess of Cornwall
Paul Beatty receives the Man Booker Prize from the Duchess of Cornwall

American author Paul Beatty has won the Man Booker Prize for The Sellout - a satirical take on modern race relations in the US.

The win makes 54-year-old Beatty, who teaches at Columbia University, the first American to be awarded the prize in its 48-year history.

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1962, Beatty left home at 17 to study at Boston University before taking a creative writing and poetry course at Brooklyn College in New York.

The Sellout, set in LA and which includes the fallout of the unjust shooting of an African-American at the hands of the police, was described by judges as a "novel of our times".

They added it, "takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl".

The New York-based writer previously told the Paris Review he was "surprised" at how his novel had been characterised as a comic novel.

He added: "I'm not sure how I define it."

Published by independent publishers Oneworld - who also won in 2015 with Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings - The Sellout was also handed the National Book Critics Circle Award.

It is Beatty's fourth novel, following on from Slumberland, Tuff, and his 1996 debut The White Boy Shuffle, which explores gang culture in LA.

He has also published two books of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce and in 2006 edited an anthology of African-American Humour - Hokum.

The Duchess of Cornwall, an avid reader, presented the prestigious literary award to the winner at a ceremony in London - the fourth time she has handed over the prize.

Belfast Telegraph

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