Paul Beatty

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Paul Beatty
Born (1962-06-09) June 9, 1962 (age 56)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, poet
Alma materBrooklyn College
Boston University
GenreFiction, poetry
Years active1990s-present

Paul Beatty (born June 9, 1962) is an American author and an associate professor of writing at Columbia University.[1] In 2016, he won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sellout. It was the first time a writer from the United States was honored with the Man Booker.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Los Angeles in 1962, Beatty received an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College and an MA in psychology from Boston University. He is a 1980 graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, California.


In 1990, Beatty was crowned the first ever Grand Poetry Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.[2] One of the prizes for winning the championship title was the book deal that resulted in his first volume of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank (1991).[3] This was followed by another book of poetry, Joker, Joker, Deuce (1994), and appearances performing his poetry on MTV and PBS (in the series The United States of Poetry).[4] In 1993, he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.[5]

His first novel, The White Boy Shuffle (1996), received a positive review in The New York Times from reviewer Richard Bernstein, who called the book "a blast of satirical heat from the talented heart of black American life."[6] His second book, Tuff (2000), received a positive notice in Time magazine.[7] In 2006, Beatty edited an anthology of African-American humor called Hokum and wrote an article in The New York Times on the same subject.[8] His 2008 novel Slumberland was about an American DJ in Berlin.[9]

In his 2015 novel The Sellout, Beatty chronicles an urban farmer who tries to spearhead a revitalization of slavery and segregation in a fictional Los Angeles neighborhood. In The Guardian, Elisabeth Donnelly described it as "a masterful work that establishes Beatty as the funniest writer in America",[10] while reviewer Reni Eddo-Lodge called it a "whirlwind of a satire", going on to say: "Everything about The Sellout's plot is contradictory. The devices are real enough to be believable, yet surreal enough to raise your eyebrows."[11] The book took over five years to complete.[12]

The Sellout was awarded the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction,[13][14] and the 2016 Man Booker Prize.[15][16] Beatty is the first American to have won the Man Booker Prize, for which all English-language novels became eligible in 2014.[17][18]

Awards and honors[edit]



  • Big Bank Take Little Bank (1991). Nuyorican Poets Cafe Press. ISBN 0-9627842-7-3
  • Joker, Joker, Deuce (1994). ISBN 0-14-058723-3


Edited volume[edit]

  • Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor (2006). Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 978-1596911482


  1. ^ Paul Beatty faculty page, Columbia University School of the Arts
  2. ^ Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe (2008), Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam. Soft Skull Press, p. 45. ISBN 1-933368-82-9.
  3. ^ Aptowicz, p. 46.
  4. ^ Aptowicz, p. 80.
  5. ^ "Grants to artists, Poetry 1993 | Paul Beatty", Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
  6. ^ a b Bernstein, Richard (May 31, 1996). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Black Poet's First Novel Aims the Jokes Both Ways". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  7. ^ "Books: Tuff By Paul Beatty", Time Magazine, May 1, 2000.
  8. ^ "Black Humor", The New York Times, January 22, 2006.
  9. ^ Patrick Neate, "Jukebox sommelier", The Guardian, December 6, 2008.
  10. ^ Donnelly, Elisabeth, "Paul Beatty on writing, humor and race: 'There are very few books that are funny'", The Guardian, March 10, 2015.
  11. ^ Eddo-Lodge, Reni, "The Sellout by Paul Beatty review – a whirlwind satire about racial identity", The Guardian, May 11, 2016.
  12. ^ "A Swiftian hero", The Economist, October 29, 2016. Article withdrawn for similarities with other articles, with apology.
  13. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Announces Award Winners for Publishing Year 2015", March 17, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  14. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev, "Paul Beatty: 'Slam poetry, TED talks: they're for short attention spans'", The Guardian, June 24, 2016.
  15. ^ "Sellout Wins 2016 Man Booker Prize". The Man Booker Prize.
  16. ^ Alter, Alexandra, "Paul Beatty Wins Man Booker Prize With 'The Sellout'", The New York Times, October 25, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  17. ^ Masters, Tim, "Man Booker Prize: Paul Beatty becomes first US winner for The Sellout", BBC News, October 26, 2016.
  18. ^ Charlotte Higgins, "Turned down 18 times. Then Paul Beatty won the Booker …", The Guardian, October 26, 2016.
  19. ^ Alter, Alexandra (March 17, 2016). "'The Sellout' Wins National Book Critics Circle's Fiction Award". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2016.

External links[edit]