Paul Beatty’s The Sellout—a tragicomic novel that charts how a Black man ends up on trial at the Supreme Court for reinstating segregation in his Los Angeles neighborhood—emerges from a rich tradition of Black American literary satire. Below are some titles that pair well with The Sellout, which Alta’s California Book Club will discuss at its February 18 gathering.
To join Alta’s California Book Club conversation with Beatty on February 18, click here.
The central question this novel seeks to answer is, What would happen if every Black person in America turned white? When the mad scientist Dr. Julius Crookman invents a device to make that possible, our protagonist, Max Disher, finds himself on an adventure into a new world.
Considered an “epic milestone of American literature,” Invisible Man charts the life of an unnamed Black character who, after a series of wild events, coincidences, and accidents, winds up living in a basement lair.
The eponymous protagonist, who is the daughter of an absent Black mother and an absent white father, embarks on an odyssey through the labyrinth of New York City to reclaim her roots.
We follow three enslaved people, who are “infected” with dysaethesia aethiopica (a pseudoscientific medical term coined in the 19th century to describe laziness among the enslaved), as they run away to Canada.
From the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honoree comes an electric debut short story collection that offers a surreal and satirical take on what it means to be Black and alive in America right now.
Here’s another short story collection that illuminates the precarity of Black citizenship and identity with dark humor and incisive wit.
Hailed as a much-needed read for fans of The Sellout and Get Out, this novel follows a father’s desire to protect his biracial son, even if that means encouraging him to turn white as he becomes more and more dark.
Described as the cross between the films Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street, Black Buck tracks a young man as he takes on a position as the only Black salesman at a cultish and successful startup.